Animal Aid

Edinburgh's Victims of Charity: Animal experiments protest comes to the city

Posted 6 July 2012

Photocall: 11 July, 12 noon at the square in front of St Giles Cathedral, High Street, Edinburgh

On Wednesday July 11th Edinburgh residents will have the rare opportunity of seeing what goes on behind the closed doors of vivisection laboratories at the city’s University. National campaign group, Animal Aid, has obtained shocking footage of mice undergoing the same brain injury and stroke experiments as are conducted at the university, and will be taking to the streets of Edinburgh to screen the film to members of the public.

Much of the funding for the university’s experiments comes from the Alzheimer’s Society, and Animal Aid wants to show people exactly how the charity is using money donated to it by the public.

Marking the visit, a national campaign will be launched – directed both at the university’s Principal and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Chief Executive – calling on them to end the experiments and switch to ethical, non-animal research methodologies.

The Edinburgh research involves inflicting stroke and traumatic brain damage on mice, studying how the animals respond to memory testing and then analysing the chemicals in their brains. One frequently used test is the Morris water maze, which forces mice to swim in a pool of water until they find a submerged platform. Mice tend to panic when immersed in water, and the test is acknowledged, even by its users, as ‘somewhat unpleasant’. The testing regime on the brain-damaged mice can go on for ten days or more.

Animal Aid’s Scientific Consultant, Dr Adrian Stallwood, has rigorously examined the justifications given for the work, and concluded that the series of experiments is both extremely cruel and without scientific merit. Dr Stallwood notes that the research is highly repetitive and, in general, the researchers attempt to reproduce findings that have already been discovered from clinical, epidemiological or autopsy studies in humans. Despite this, the Alzheimer’s Society continues to use money donated by the public to pay for these lethal experiments. In the autumn of 2011, the Society granted £335,176 to an Edinburgh researcher to continue brain-damaging mice for a further three years.

Professor Lawrence Hanson, a highly distinguished specialist in geriatric neuropathology, has spoken out against the use of animal ‘models’:

‘The “cures” that work in the rodents have never worked when applied to humans… The species differences that have evolved over millions of years make animal models largely useless, except for the purposes of enhancing scientific careers and attracting lots of grant money.’

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘The Edinburgh University brain damage experiments are particularly cruel and destructive. Deliberately inflicting appalling suffering on animals is never justifiable, but if there existed a credible argument that this mice research is relevant to people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease then the task of opposing it would be more difficult. A careful assessment of the researchers’ published material shows that there is no plausible argument. These experiments must cease, and the money and scientific expertise squandered on them redirected to research that is relevant, productive and humane.’

The Edinburgh protest is the latest initiative in Animal Aid’s Victims of Charity campaign, launched in June 2011. The group is urging the public to withhold donations from all medical research charities that fund animal research, until those charities switch to humane and productive non-animal methods. A public opinion poll commissioned from NOP in the wake of the campaign’s launch, found that 82 per cent of people would not knowingly donate to a medical research charity that funds animal research.

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