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PDX Wildlife and Magellan Diagnostics to Study Panda Lead Exposure in China
March 16, 2017
PDXWildlife, a non-profit that concentrates on using scientific research and advances to improve the conservation of imperiled species, is partnering with Massachusetts-based Magellan Diagnostics, Inc. on a landmark study to determine the effects of pollution and lead exposure in captive pandas in China.
Bamboo could be one source of lead exposure threatening the reproductive success of the giant panda species. First-ever study seeks to better understand all exposure sources.
As part of the program, Magellan will provide its LeadCare® II testing system to PDXWildlife afor use at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Sichuan, China.
Magellan Diagnostics' LeadCare II blood lead testing system is the only FDA cleared, rapid and portable system capable of providing a quantitative blood lead result in just three minutes. Although LeadCare II is primarily used in thousands of primary care settings in the United States to help doctors diagnose lead exposure in children and pregnant women quickly and easily, it is also used for identifying elevated blood lead levels in wildlife.
Lead exposure is a global health threat to all living things. There are numerous sources of lead that threaten wildlife which include occupational sources such as mining, smelting battery manufacture/recycle and e-waste processing, lead-based paint on homes and other structures, and environmental pollutants such as coal burning power production.
60% of China's energy comes from coal burning power plants. One of the byproducts of coal combustion is lead which can deposit onto surrounding surfaces up to several thousand miles away. With giant pandas predominantly housed near city centers, pollution reaches their enclosures and their major source of food, bamboo. As bamboo is harvested for food, these bears are potentially ingesting harmful levels of this toxic metal. Other sources of lead are present in waste incineration and potentially in the material used to construct and maintain the panda's pens, including lead-based paint.
"The environment in which captive giant pandas predominantly live, gives rise to the need to further understand the levels of lead to which these beautiful bears are being exposed," said Nathan Wintle, conservation biologist and director of PDXWildlife. "The more we understand the factors that are adversely affecting threatened and endangered species, the better suited we'll be to assist in their recovery. Magellan's donation of the LeadCare II test kits will help us better understand the effects that lead exposure might be having on the giant pandas around China's urban centers."
The potential harmful effects of lead exposure on giant pandas include organ and tissue damage, reproductive system damage, neurological damage, immune system suppression and, in extreme cases, paralysis and death.
"The majority of cases involving elevated blood lead levels are without symptoms. Testing is the only way to identify if vulnerable populations like the giant panda are being exposed to high levels of lead," said Catherine Lufkin, marketing director at Magellan Diagnostics. "This study could help inform efforts toward the long-term survival of this incredible species. We are pleased to be part of it."
The LeadCare II system is portable, allowing blood samples to be tested conveniently onsite through the spring breeding season. PDXWildlife expects to compile the results this summer and subsequently publish the results. Mr. Wintle added, "Since this will be the first-ever blood lead analysis study on giant pandas, we expect the scientific community to welcome it."
About Magellan Diagnostics, Inc.
Magellan Diagnostics is a medical device company that provides point of care systems, clinical laboratory instruments, and analytical laboratory services focused on lead testing. Headquartered outside Boston in Billerica, Massachusetts, Magellan is dedicated to educating families, clinicians, policy makers, payers and communities about the permanent physical and mental health damage caused by lead exposure; and to offering high-quality, reliable products that help to quickly identify children and adults who are being exposed. For more information visit www.magellandx.com.
PDXWildlife's research is centered on increasing the reproductive success and reintroduction of the Giant Panda in Sichuan, China, at panda breeding facilities such as Bifengxia and Gengda. They accomplish this through innovative and creative methods in captive breeding, habitat restoration, and by training the next generation of biologists in conservation biology. They hire and train 20 interns each year on projects that include behavioral, toxicology, and endocrinology studies. For more information, visit www.pdxwildlife.com.