Non-human Primates in Neuroscience Research: The Case Against its Scientific Necessity

Jarrod Bailey and Katy Taylor

Public opposition to non-human primate (NHP) experiments is significant, yet those who defend them cite minimal harm to NHPs and substantial human benefit. Here we review these claims of benefit, specifically in neuroscience, and show that: a) there is a default assumption of their human relevance and benefit, rather than robust evidence; b) their human relevance and essential contribution and necessity are wholly overstated; c) the contribution and capacity of non-animal investigative methods are greatly understated; and d) confounding issues, such as species differences and the effects of stress and anaesthesia, are usually overlooked. This is the case in NHP research generally, but here we specifically focus on the development and interpretation of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), deep brain stimulation (DBS), the understanding of neural oscillations and memory, and investigation of the neural control of movement and of vision/binocular rivalry. The increasing power of human-specific methods, including advances in fMRI and invasive techniques such as electrocorticography and single-unit recordings, is discussed. These methods serve to render NHP approaches redundant. We conclude that the defence of NHP use is groundless, and that neuroscience would be more relevant and successful for humans, if it were conducted with a direct human focus. We have confidence in opposing NHP neuroscience, both on scientific as well as on ethical grounds.

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An Update on TGN1412

Nirmala Bhogal and Robert Combes

In the last issue of ATLA, we assessed whether the existing methods for assessing the safety and efficacy of new candidate medicines was adequate for the testing of humanised therapeutic agents. We made specific reference to the failed TGN1412 first-in-man study that took place earlier this year. This paper was circulated to experts and those involved in the development or testing of TGN1412. More recently, the Focus on Alternatives group has made a submission to the Expert Working Group that is currently considering how such incidences can be avoided in the future. Here, we provide an update of the events relating to the TGN1412 clinical trial.
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2017-01-09T06:36:49+00:00 Tags: , , , |

Why do the Numbers of Laboratory Animal Procedures Conducted Continue to Rise? An Analysis of the Home Office Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005

Michelle Hudson

The publication of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005 once again provides evidence that the levels of animal experimentation in Great Britain are rising, the underlying reason for this being the continued and increasing reliance on genetically modified animals as model systems. There has been a gradual increase in fundamental research, as applied toxicological studies have declined. Of particular concern is the impact that the forthcoming REACH legislation will have and the apparent lack of urgency in facing up to this challenge. The major issues arising from the Statistics are discussed, including the increases in rabbit and primate procedures. The potential of newly validated and emerging techniques to counteract these worrying trends are also considered.
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Depolarising Primate Experimentation: The Good, the Bad and the Determined

Michelle Hudson

Until I began working at FRAME, I was not really aware of the Three Rs or FRAME’s work to promote and progress them. It soon became clear to me that it made scientific sense and that it could make a difference to many thousands of laboratory animals. As an alternatives advocate, I regularly experience optimism, frustration and determination. This is illustrated most clearly by the primate research dilemma. Here, I describe the positive and negative experiences I have had whilst working toward the goal of replacing primate experiments, and how these have led me to undertake a multidisciplinary PhD project on primate use in biomedical research. The aim is to examine how research scientists view the opportunities and challenges involved in the use of primates in biomedical science, and to investigate the feasibility of phasing out their use. As a result of the research, I hope to provide a new perspective, to depolarise the debate and bring about a constructive dialogue between all parties as to how and when primate research could be replaced.
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2017-01-09T06:38:00+00:00 Tags: , , , , , |