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EARA patient project launches in Portugal

Updated: May 10


Hugo Vicente Miranda and Luís Sousa, researchers at NMS, show a mice behavioural test to people living with diabetes.
Hugo Vicente Miranda and Luís Sousa, researchers at NMS, show a mice behavioural test to people living with diabetes.

An EARA initiative, to give people affected by diabetes better information about the critical role of animal studies in medical advances for their condition, launched this week in Portugal.


The Patient Discovery project, hosted by EARA member NOVA Medical School (NMS), Lisbon, and the patient group APDP Diabetes, brought together researchers and medical experts, to give the participants an invaluable look into the complexities of biomedical research and drug development on diabetes.


The event, also attended by EARA chair, Ana Isabel Santos, who is a professor at NMS, and Inês Serrenho, the co-coordinator of the Portuguese Transparency Agreement, took place on the first day of the Portuguese Open Week for Animal Research.


Nuno Gonçalves, representing EARA, introduced the project, discussing animal welfare and the essential role of animal research in understanding and treating diseases. This was followed by insightful talks from Rogério Ribeiro and João Raposo of APDP, who elaborated on the specific role of animal experimentation in diabetes.


Further presenters included principal investigators Sílvia Conde, Rita Oliveira, and Hugo Miranda, who gave deeper insights into their ongoing research efforts and potential therapeutic approaches.


Following the talks, the participants then visited the rodent facility, where they gained a deeper understanding of the experimental procedures. They watched the researchers perform several behavioural tests and blood collection for glucose measurement, both in mice, plus a minor surgery in a rat, to witness first-hand the care and welfare practices involved throughout all the experiments.


Participants were keen to know more about their condition, and the research that is being conducted, and the researchers and medical experts were able to clarify doubts and comments from the participants which led to interesting discussions about their work and science in general.

Rita Patarrão and Rita Oliveira, researchers at NMS, show mice cage identification cards before a blood collection.
Rita Patarrão and Rita Oliveira, researchers at NMS, show mice cage identification cards before a blood collection.

The group also showed curiosity about the use of animals and appreciated the need for the use of animals in research. They were also glad to be able to establish a two-way communication channel with researchers.


“I did not imagine that there were so many research lines in diabetes and the passion of the researchers working with animals really surprised me” said Jorge Coelho, a participant through the APDP Diabetes association.


Manuela Godinho, another participant, said: “It surpassed expectations, with the openness on the questions we asked. This research I was able to witness is not separated from patients. And the animals are well taken care of.” Sílvia Conde, a principal investigator at NMS, added: “The patients surprised me... I was not expecting them to be so well informed and to ask such complex questions”.


EARA's executive director, Kirk Leech, said: “We are pleased to see a growing interest in our patient engagement project. The expansion of the project into diabetes research is evidence that there is scope to bring together patients with researchers from many different areas of biomedical research. We hope to expand this innovative project further in 2024.”


This initiative follows a successful launch of the Patient Discovery project, in the Netherlands last autumn, with Parkinson’s disease patients. The project aims to help the gap between research institutions and patient groups across Europe, with plans for further expansion in Germany and Spain.

Sílvia Conde, researcher at NMS, explains to people livining with diabetes the procedures done in rats for diabetes research.


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