Animal Aid

PROOF OF EVIDENCE - Cambridge planning appeal

The following Proof of Evidence has been prepared by Dr Ray Greek MD on behalf of Animal Aid, NAVS, Naturewatch, PeTA, Uncaged and X-CAPE for the local inquiry into the proposed primate research centre in Cambridge. A summary is also available. See the Cambridge campaign index for background information and latest news.

Contents

[PDF format version]

Biography

Dr. Ray Greek is a physician who is board certified in anaesthesiology and sub-specialty certified in pain management. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has taught anaesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He has published in the lay and medical literature and performed experiments on animals and research with humans.

Dr. Greek has co-written, with his wife - veterinarian Dr Jean Greek DVM* - two books on the scientific fallacy of attempting to extrapolate the results of animal experiments to humans. Jane Goodall wrote the foreword to the first, Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals (Continuum 2000). Their interest in the subject arose from a series of discussions in which it became clear to them that a course of treatment that cured one of Dr Jean Greek's animal patients would often fail in humans, and vice-versa.

This led the Drs. Greek to spend a decade studying comparative anatomy and physiology, reviewing treatment notes, and perusing scientific literature as well as medical history books. Jean's expertise in animal anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, combined with Ray's expertise in the same for humans, allowed this husband/wife team to examine the similarities and differences between the species with greater depth. The publication of Sacred Cows and Golden Geese was followed by Specious Science:How Genetics and Evolution Reveal Why Medical Research on Animals Harms Humans, (Continuum International Pub 2002). Both books focus solely on the science of this hotly debated topic.

Drs. Greek have shown not only that animal experiments are unnecessary, but also that they have resulted in both direct and indirect harm to humans. Thus these expensive and unreliable animal models have been harmful and have produced nothing that could not have been accomplished via other methods. Drs. Greek effectively argue that the money currently going to fund animal experiments should be designated for other historically more productive and scientific means of health/biomedical research.

Dr. Ray Greek is president of Americans For Medical Advancement, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to educating the public about the hazards of extrapolating the results of experiments on animal models to humans. He is also Medical Director, Europeans For Medical Advancement. Dr Greek lectures frequently and has testified before regulatory bodies in the US and abroad.

(*Dr Jean Greek completed veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an internship at the University Tennessee, and a dermatology residency at the University Pennsylvania, then taught at the University of Missouri as a boarded veterinary dermatologist, one of less than 200 in the world.)

Introduction

  1. Experimenting on nonhuman primates in the hope of curing human neurological diseases is an exercise in futility. At first glance, this may seem counter-intuitive, as we all know how closely related we are to our nonhuman primate "cousins". That we share 98.5% of our genes with chimpanzees has been known for years, though the original author of that figure has now revised his estimate to approximately 94.5%. Even so, that is an awful lot of similarity and has led us to believe that laboratory experiments on chimpanzees, monkeys and other nonhuman primates provide results reliable enough to be extrapolated to humans. So let's compare the track record of research on primates with what actually happens in humans.
  2. Heart disease is the leading killer in the western world, but while monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas have all been studied, none has been found to form atherosclerotic plaques like humans. Primate research on cancer, the second leading cause of death in humans, and stroke, the third, has failed to yield insights about the human diseases or drugs to treat them.
  3. Primates have been very disappointing with regard to their ability to predict dangerous side effects of medications, especially pertaining to the induction of birth defects. Aspirin produces birth defects in primates, but not babies. Almost all currently used medications cause birth defects in some animal species. PCP, better known as angel dust, sedates chimpanzees but causes humans to have severe experiences including paranoia. Nitrobenzene is toxic to humans but not monkeys. Isoprenaline (isoproterenol) doses were worked out on animals, but proved too high for humans. People died as a result. Even when the researchers knew what to look for they were unable to reproduce this effect in monkeys. Carbenoxalone caused people to retain water to the point of heart failure. Scientists retrospectively tested it on monkeys, but could not reproduce this effect. Flosint, an arthritis medication, was tested on monkeys, who tolerated the medication well. In humans, however, it caused deaths. Amrinone, a medication used for heart failure, was tested on numerous nonhuman primates. Humans haemorrhaged, as the drug caused their blood cells responsible for clotting to fail. This side effect occurred in a startling 20% of patients taking the medication on a long-term basis. Opren killed 61 people. Over 3,500 cases of severe reactions have been documented. Opren was tested on monkeys without problems.
  4. What about infectious diseases? Are we able to draw results from primates about viruses? Chimpanzees harbour Hepatitis B asymptomatically. Humans die from it. Vaccines for polio and rabies were tested safe in primates but killed humans. Even the inventor of the polio vaccine, Dr. Sabin, stated under oath that the polio vaccine was long delayed because of misleading results in primates. AIDS researchers have fared no better. The huge number of differences between the immune system of humans and nonhuman primates invalidates any experimental results. Dr. Mark Feinberg, a leading HIV/AIDS researcher stated: "What good does it do you to test something [a vaccine] in a monkey? You find five or six years from now that it works in the monkey, and then you test it in humans and you realise that humans behave totally differently from monkeys, so you've wasted five years." Monkeys do not die of AIDS. Humans do.
  5. Our blood typing system bears testament to the fallacy of extrapolating monkey research to man. The Rh factor in human blood was named after rhesus monkeys. Later research in humans showed that the factors in man and monkey were quite different. The mistake was so ingrained in medical lore by that time, that it was decided not to bother to change the name!
  6. But perhaps the most ridiculous research is that of drug addiction. To take nonhuman primates out of their natural environment, addict them to a substance they would never have otherwise come in contact with and expect to learn the psychological and physiological reasons why a human abuses crack cocaine is ludicrous. The Committee on Animals in Biomedical Research has stated "It is impossible to reproduce human cocaine abuse in the laboratory - nonhuman primate or human - because drug use reflects psychological factors that do not have laboratory correlates, such as drug cost, drug purity, drug availability, drug mixtures, the setting, users' physical health, and others." State University of New York scientist Diana Dow-Edwards states, "Of course, due to the complex nature of cocaine's pharmacology, there is no perfect animal model. It is virtually impossible to perfectly model human development in anything other than a human being...Within the animal literature, all in all, there is a low level of demonstrated reproducibility...no two studies have found the same effects." Perhaps we should take the money out of the laboratory and use it to study the many humans who are addicted.
  7. Recent experiments in squirrel monkeys and baboons led to headline pronouncements that "ecstasy" (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)) can cause Parkinson's disease. Yet only two imaging studies of human ecstasy users have been conducted, and no corresponding damage was found. Incredibly, only one neuroscientist has analysed the brain of a chronic ecstasy user after death - again, there was no correlation with the primate research. This is yet another clear illustration of the misdirection of research priorities into animal studies at the expense of proper clinical investigation.
  8. Before we explain why research on primates is not in the best interest of humans suffering from diseases of the brain, we need to explain the theory that supports our more general position that animal models of human disease are archaic and dangerous to humans.
  9. Theory

  10. In the old days, animal models appeared to be viable for two reasons: First, when so little was known about human physiology and disease, discovering something in a dog or monkey did, at times, translate to humans. (Of course animal models were not adequate even back then when so little was known. In the first half of the twentieth century, animal models led to the notions that smoking was safe and cholesterol good for the heart. Probably no two mistakes have cost as many lives.)
  11. Second, some scientists believed doing something to combat disease, such as experimenting on animals, was preferable to doing nothing. Epidemiology, statistics, cell cultures, indeed all of science, was in its infancy. Clinical research was limited due to the lack of basic scientific knowledge about human disease. Artificial neural nets (a technology involving computer programmes that "learn" is being used to, among other things, read mammograms and pap smears, analyze data, aid in basic and clinical research) were not even thought of. The art of statistical analysis was just emerging. Technology was rudimentary. Mathematical modelling was unheard of, as was the human genome project, MRI and PET scanners, computer-aided drug design, and pharmacogenomics. We acknowledge that many discoveries of the 1600s to early 1900s involved animals. However, even in retrospect, there are doubts as to whether animal experimentation did more good than harm. History has revealed that time could have been better used by studying the basic sciences, by perfecting in vitro research, and by discovering and advancing the technology and methods that have proven so beneficial today. But hindsight is 20/20.
  12. Today, thanks to those technologies, we are beyond the level of superficial similarities and are now studying disease at the genetic or molecular level. It is at this level that a monkey becomes a monkey and a human, a human. Does the practice of using primates or other animals as models, today, do more harm than good? Consider the following:

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