For International Primate Day on September 1st 2017, Animal Defenders International is calling for action to end the use of primates in research. Worldwide an estimated 200,000 primates are experimented on each year, with over 70,000 animals used in research across the US, one of the world’s largest users of primates.Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer said: “The continued use of primates in research is unethical and unnecessary. Harmful to both our closest relatives and to science, governments must end primate tests and facilitate the adoption of modern alternatives without delay.”
Some primates are forcibly removed from the wild and used as breeding machines to supply the industry, or used themselves in tests. In addition to the trauma caused to individuals during the capture process, subsequent confinement, and during procedures until their deaths, this brutal practice harms local populations threatening their survival.
In Latin America, ADI has exposed the capture of owl monkeys for use in malaria experiments in Colombia. Taken from the trees, these nocturnal primates go from the forest to a barren cage. Our evidence led to a tribunal revoking the experimenter’s permits; although this groundbreaking decision has been overturned. Elsewhere, in Africa and Asia, ADI has revealed dire conditions inside the monkey breeders, who take primates from the wild to maintain their breeding stocks. At the monkey farms, individuals are confined to cages and routinely manhandled. In Florida, already home to a number of monkey breeders, ADI is opposing plans for a facility which seeks to import thousands of primates from outside the US.
Primates are frequently used in brain experiments because of their apparent similarity to humans. However, despite being our closest relatives, non-human primates differ from us in a number of ways, including the immune system. Their use in research therefore can never reliably predict potential human effects. Aspirin for example causes birth defects in monkeys, but is widely used by pregnant women without the same effect.
Such species differences are the fundamental flaw of using animals in research. Each species respondsdifferently to substances, with an animal’s age, diet, sex, even bedding material, also affecting results. As a result animal tests can delay scientific progress and lead to human tragedy.
Just days after being given trial drug BIA 10-2474, the six male volunteers in the highest dose group were hospitalized. Four volunteers displayed neurological symptoms, with at least one losing all his fingers and toes; one of the six volunteers died a week after receiving the dose. No comparable effect had been seen in monkeys or other animals given high doses of the drug over long periods. Some monkeys were estimated to have received around 75 times the dose given to the volunteers.In another drug trial tragedy, TGN1412 was given to volunteers who then suffered multiple organ failure as the drug triggered an uncontrollable immune response. One volunteer was hospitalized for three months, another had their fingers and toes amputated, and all are likely to suffer permanent damage to their immune systems and live with the danger of developing cancer and lupus. The drug had been tested extensively in laboratory animals including in doses 500 times greater in monkeys with no drug-related adverse events.Investment in animal research, predominantly with primates, has been wasteful and unsuccessful. A review has shown that not one of the 85+ candidate AIDS vaccines successfully tested in primates have been effective in human patients.ADI has documented the suffering of primates for product safety tests at the notorious contract testing facility Huntingdon Life Science (now known as Envigo). Monkeys were strapped down to restrain them while substances were pumped directly into their stomachs, and they suffered a range of debilitating symptoms.
Researchers claim that the use of primates in brain research is ‘necessary’ but sophisticated neuroimaging techniques are available to study human behavior and brain function. Comparing data from human electrical brain activity with data obtained by experimenters using electrodes in restrained monkeys, Professor Furlong and his team at Aston University in the UK have shown the same level of data can be obtained, directly relevant to human patients.
International Primate Day was established by Animal Defenders International in 2005 to highlight the threats to and abuses of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom – apes and monkeys – from their use in research and entertainment, for meat and the pet trade.
Around 20,000 primates are imported into the US every year, from countries such as China, Vietnam and Mauritius. ADI USA revealed the hidden suffering of primates bred for research on the tropical Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Biodia, one of the biggest suppliers of laboratory monkeys in the world, sends thousands to miserable deaths in the USA and worldwide. At this facility we filmed baby monkeys torn from their screaming mothers to be tattooed, pregnant monkeys manhandled and pinned down in terrifying routine procedures and screaming monkeys being swung by their tails. http://www.ad-international.org/animal_experiments/go.php?id=3503
Over 2,000 primates were imported into the UK from Asia and Africa last year. ADI infiltrated Nafovanny in Vietnam filming the macaque monkeys in small, filthy, broken cages – images the huge dealer of monkeys to the USA and UK denied were on their premises – until we proved otherwise. They once roamed free only to be torn from the trees and forced to live for years in these dismal prisons. http://www.ad-international.org/publications/go.php?id=1577 Monkeys filmed Huntingdon Life Sciences were supplied by Nafovanny. http://www.ad-international.org/publications/go.php?id=1576
- There are many alternatives to the use of animals which are more reliable and are based on better science such as, human cell, tissue and organ culture, including 3D models containing different tissues providing a better representation of the actual situation in a living human; databases of known information, and sophisticated analytical techniques.
- Advanced non-animal methods include the lung-on-a-chip, which mimics the movements of the breathing lung, providing provide low-cost alternatives for drug screening and toxicology tests
- Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is an analytical tool of unprecedented sensitivity. It can be used to study samples from human volunteers given ultra-low, harmless, doses of new drugs (called micro-dosing). Obtaining early data from humans can avoid the unnecessary exposure of volunteers in clinical trials to potentially toxic drugs. Safe, relevant to the correct species. Emerging technologies like AMS have many advantages, including speeding the development process and improving safety.
- Other cutting edge methods available to develop and test drugs include computer simulations and modelling, high throughput screening for rapid analysis of compounds for drug discovery, epidemiological studies of human disease, transmission, genetics and environmental factors; fMRI and other imaging techniques.
The fundamental flaw of using animals for safety testing, and other forms of research, is species differences. With each species responding differently to substances, primate and other animal tests can never reliably predict potential human effects.
- Macaque monkeys are frequently used in toxicology testing, but they have specific genes which are vital for drug metabolism (when a drug works through the body). These genes are not found in humans and this is just one of the reasons for differences in drug metabolism between monkeys and humans.
- The action of drugs also varies; for example Aspirin causes birth defects in monkeys, but is widely used by pregnant women without the same effect.
- A review showed that none of the 85+ candidate AIDS vaccines successfully tested in primates have been effective in human patients Horses, rats and mice cannot vomit.
- Morphine drugs are a depressant in rats, dogs, hamsters and other species, but produce tremors and convulsions at comparable doses in mice and cats.
- The breast cancer drug tamoxifen was designed as an oral contraceptive. It is in rats, but in women it has the opposite effect. It is now used in the treatment of breast cancer, despite causing cancer in rats in some studies.
Animal Defenders International (ADI): Los Angeles – London – Bogota
Ending the suffering of animals in captivity and protecting wild animals and their environments.Active worldwide to end the suffering of animals: animals in entertainment – film, television, advertising, circuses and sport or leisure; animals used for food or fur; protection of wildlife and the environment; trade in animals; zoos, pets, entertainment and laboratories. Funding and promotion of advanced scientific methods to replace the use of animals in research. ADI investigates, produces evidence and reports on the scientific, legal and economic issues for each case study, recommending solutions. Education and awareness to public, media and officials. Where ADI’s evidence has been a catalyst for change, we collaborate with governments to conduct large-scale seizures of wild animals in captivity and relocate them to forever homes – back to their natural habitat wherever possible.