Lab chimps show same stress symptoms as tortured humans
CHIMPANZEES subjected to laboratory experiments suffer similar levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as humans who have been tortured, according to a new study.
The study, which will be presented to a scientific conference in Edinburgh tomorrow, will fuel calls for a Europe-wide ban on the use of primates in medical and pharmaceutical trials.
An assessment of the behaviour of 116 chimps involved in animal research found that 95% displayed at least one of the distinctive patterns of behaviour that humans show when suffering from PTSD.
Now living in a primate sanctuary in the US, the chimps showed symptoms of depression, anxiety and compulsive behaviours not observed in wild populations.
The study was carried out by American physician Hope Ferdowsian, who will deliver the findings to an international primate conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Ferdowsian, who has evaluated the mental condition of human torture victims, said: "The high prevalence of mental disorders we observed in these chimpanzees offers a new reason to support proposals to stop using great apes in laboratory experiments.
"We now know that a chimpanzee's mind and emotional well-being are affected by experimentation in ways that parallel the psychological trauma experienced by victims of torture and other forms of abuse."
Experimentation on chimpanzees is still allowed in the US, although there is a ban already in place in the UK.
But Ferdowsian, director of research policy at the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, insisted that the findings would apply to all primates, including monkeys.
Around 3,000 monkeys are still used for scientific trials – mainly for research into human diseases such as Parkinson's, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, HIV and strokes – every year in the UK because of similarities in brain physiology.
Last year, more than 800 monkeys died in laboratory experiments in Scottish research centres.
Around Europe, 10,000 primates are used in experiments every year but some members of the European Parliament are pressing for a ban.
One supporter of a ban is Scottish MEP David Martin, who called for the development of alternatives.
"It is the failure to develop and validate modern non-animal tests that perpetuates the reliance on out-dated animal experimentation, and when these procedures are carried out on our closest animal relatives, people are rightly appalled," he said.
A spokesman for the campaign group Advocates for Animals said: "There is huge political and public support for a European ban on the use of great apes and Dr Ferdowsian's research makes an already strong case unanswerable."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West