Study humans not monkeys – letter in The Telegraph

Posted on the 23rd September 2003

Scientific opposition to experiments on primates is considerable and growing - as evidenced by a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on 23rd September 2003.

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 diseases.

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 Vista
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

Find out more about the proposed Cambridge primate labs.
Click here for the Cambridge campaign index.

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