"STUDY HUMAN BRAINS"
Opposition to primate experiments grows
Scientific opposition to experiments on primates is considerable
and growing - as evidenced by a letter just published by the Daily Telegraph.
SIR - John Prescott will soon announce his decision as to whether
Cambridge University can build its new primate laboratory in the Cambridge
green belt. Tony Blair and the science minister, Lord Sainsbury (chief
financier of the Labour Party), have pre-empted the outcome of the public
inquiry in their ardent support for the project.
The centre would undoubtedly reap financial benefits for Cambridge's
"biotech cluster", so favoured by Lord Sainsbury. But on the
more important question of whether it would benefit human medicine, abundant
evidence suggests that it would not.
Regrettably, large sums of money spent experimenting on monkey brains
in the new facility will mean less money is available for scientists studying
human brains - both patients' and healthy volunteers'. Unravelling Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's and other neurological disorders is dependent on such human
studies. They are the key to finding treatments and cures for these terrible
Findings from marmosets and macaques have frequently misled neuroscientists,
sometimes with tragic consequences. For example, scores of treatments
for stroke have been developed and tested in primates, but all of them
have failed in humans and harmed people in clinical trials.
One hundred and fifteen MPs agree with us that "experiments on primates
cannot be justified in view of the important biological differences between
people and primates."
Professor Claude Reiss - Director, Alzheim' R&D
Professor Lawrence Hansen - University of California
Dr Nancy Harrison - Scripps Memorial Hospital, Chula
Dr Ray Greek, Dr Christopher Anderegg, Dr Jerry Vlasak - Europeans
for Medical Advancement
Dr Stephen Kaufman - Medical Research Modernisation Committee
Dr Niall Shanks - East Tennessee State University
Professor Vernon Reynolds - Oxford University
ACTION! Please get involved in the campaign >>
Letter from the Daily Telegraph, 23 September 2003