- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government says it will accept strict new limits on using chimpanzees in medical research, after a prestigious scientific group said that experiments with humans’ closest relative should be a last resort.

The National Institutes of Health agreed that the species deserves special consideration, and that science has advanced enough that chimps seldom would be needed to help develop new medicines.

NIH Director Francis Collins temporarily barred new research funding involving chimps, and said a working group will review about 37 ongoing projects involving the animals to see if they should be phased out.

These apes’ genetic similarity to people has long caused a quandary. It’s what has made them so valuable to scientists for nearly a century, but at the same time raised ethical and emotional concerns.