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Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Op-ed: Chimp tests don't help advance human medicine

A really great and succinct op-ed piece about why chimpanzee research is quite simply useless and wasteful. Thanks to Jen F for the link! -MA

Chimp tests don't help advance human medicine

From Alamogordo Daily News
Daily News Letter to the editor
John Pippin, Dallas, Texas

As a physician, educator and former animal researcher, I know that moving more chimpanzees into laboratory cages will not help advance human medicine.

Chimpanzees share 98 percent of our genes, but millions of immutable differences in genetic structure and expression make these human cousins scientifically unsuitable for the study and treatment of human diseases.

The director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center that hopes to receive the Alamogordo chimpanzees touts the importance of chimpanzees in research regarding hepatitis C, HIV-AIDS, monoclonal antibodies and cancer. It is compelling that these are all areas of dismal failure for chimpanzee research.

After decades of chimpanzee experiments, there still is no hepatitis C vaccine. All of the 200 human trials of HIV-AIDS vaccines have failed. The TGN1412 monoclonal antibody that was safe and effective in primates nearly killed all human volunteers tested. And chimpanzees are rarely used for cancer research because the results are unreliable.

There are also better ways to do this research. Hepatitis B vaccines have been produced in human cultures for many years, and this is an active area for hepatitis C research. The best work being done on HIV-AIDS vaccines involves so-called "elite controllers," patients who are resistant to HIV. Safer monoclonal antibodies are routinely developed using human cultures instead of animals.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that still conducts invasive chimpanzee experiments. We must urge NIH not to make the Alamogordo chimpanzees more fodder for scientifically and ethically flawed experiments. NIH should instead focus on modern, ethical research that offers the most hope for human medicine.

For more on the Alamogordo reserach chimpanzees go to "200 chimps are being put back in US lab testing - here's how you can help!"

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