Monkey Experiments 'Have Failed Patients With Neurological Diseases, Says Scientist

The tests have been described as extremely 'cruel and unnecessary'
Monkey in a cage
Some scientists describe the tests as 'cruel and unncessary' (Photo: Licensed from Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Monkey experiments have failed patients with neurological diseases, according to Dr. Jarrod Bailey, Senior Research Scientist at Cruelty Free International.

The scientist, who has a Ph.D. in viral genetics, wrote about his experiences at the Science Instead of Animal Research in Cologne -  an annual conference which looks at the use of animals in biomedical research.

The event's main focus was neuroscience experiments on animals, and according to Dr. Bailey, it was a 'great opportunity for doctors and other medical professionals, as well as scientists and government officials, to meet and debate the failings of animal research and how science could, and should, do better'.

Failure of animal experimentation

"Delegates discussed how mouse and monkey experiments have failed Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients and considered the barriers slowing the use of humane alternatives and how they can be overcome," wrote Dr. Bailey following the conference.

"Cruelty Free International was invited to present our recent work in this area, including our 2014 investigation of monkey experiments at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany and our study into flawed and misleading primate brain research.

"Our research has found that neuroscience experiments on monkeys have no direct use in combatting human brain disease and that ethical research using humans is much more useful."

'Cruel and unnecessary'

Dr. Bailey - along with a number of other scientists, labels the experiments 'cruel and unnecessary ', describing how 'monkeys have the top of their skulls removed so that electrodes can be placed into their brains to measure the activity of specific nerves'.

"They are restrained in chairs to keep them still for many hours a day, day after day, for weeks or even months," he added. "They even have posts cemented or screwed into bone to keep their heads completely immobilized during procedures."

He also claimed that those undertaking the testing in Europe and beyond 'defend their experiments by hiding the true suffering involved and exaggerating the benefit for humans', adding that differences between human and monkey brains mean the experiments will only have limited relevance for humans.

scientist in a lab
Animal advocates want to see alternatives to animal testing in place

'Animal testing has led to breakthroughs'

Some organizations and scientists defend their choice to experiment on animals. Speaking to Plant Based News earlier this year, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson's UK, Dr. Arthur Roach, said: "The use of animals in research has contributed to many breakthroughs in our understanding of Parkinson's and the discovery of current treatments.

"Since the 1970s, the lives of millions of people with Parkinson’s have been transformed by the drug levodopa. This would not have been developed without the insights gained from research involving animals as, unfortunately, there is currently no alternative method that can reproduce the complicated working of a human brain.

"Parkinson’s UK does not take the decision to fund this research lightly and, for this project alone, it has sought expert peer review twice to ensure that there is no suitable alternative to developing a safe and effective new treatment."

Regulations

He added: "Any research we fund that involves animals of any kind is carried out in line with strict Home Office regulations to ensure the animals are well treated, and we always subscribe to the '3 Rs' policy – to reduce, refine and replace the use of animals in research wherever possible.

"This type of testing gives us the best possible understanding of all potential issues with a new drug, including safety, which is important in a decision to test a new medication in humans for the first time.

"It is also currently required by the authorities that govern the approval of new medicines. Without it, potential drugs cannot progress further into clinical trials or be made available to help people with Parkinson's."

End experimentation for good

Despite these arguments, a growing number of researchers are choosing to advocate for non-testing methods. "I was proud to bring our work to this conference on your behalf, and believe that the more who hear our message, the closer we get to the change we all want to see," Dr. Bailey concluded.

"With the amazing and ever-increasing power of human-based research methods unlocking the workings of the human brain, alongside animal testing's questionable scientific value, there are fewer and fewer reasons to defend the suffering of animal for use in these cruel experiments.

"With your support behind us, we know it is only a matter of time until they are ended, for good."

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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