The U.S. is one of only two countries known to still conduct medical research with chimpanzees; the other is Gabon, in Africa. The European Union essentially banned such research last year.
Thursday’s decision was triggered by an uproar last year over the fate of 186 semi-retired research chimps that the NIH, to save money, planned to move from a New Mexico facility to an active research lab in Texas. They are staying put for now.
The Institute of Medicine’s investigation found over the past 10 years, the NIH has paid for just 110 projects of any type that involved chimps. Most involved hepatitis C, a liver virus that infects only humans and chimps. Some involved HIV, a disease that scientists now know is better to study in rhesus monkeys. Still others involved comparing the genetics of chimps and humans, or behavioral research examining such things as development and mental health.
The institute recommended two different sets of restrictions. Biomedical research _ testing new drugs or giving chimps a disease _ should allow using the apes only if studies could not be done on other animals or people themselves, and if foregoing the work would hinder progress against life-threatening or debilitating conditions. The panel said behavioral and genetic research, while less controversial, nonetheless should be limited to studies that provide insights otherwise unattainable, using techniques that minimize any pain or distress.
The institute combed research files to see what types of projects would fit those strict criteria _ and could come up with only a handful, such as a possible need to test vaccines against hepatitis C in the animals. But the panel concluded chimps aren’t needed to study cancer or a host of other diseases or even to test most drugs.
The standards wouldn’t automatically apply to privately funded pharmaceutical research, although the industry, too, is shifting away from use of chimps. One drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, adopted an official policy ending its use of great apes, including chimpanzees, in research.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
Political centrist who tells it like it is
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc