Saturday, April 21, 2012

Perspectives on Primate Testing

Most people are far from understanding the importance of primates to modern medicine and our therapeutic research and development process. Due to their very close biological relation to humans, primates remain the “ideal” scientific model for experimentation. Many, many people have varied opinions on primate medical experimentation from a scientific, ethical, financial, and spiritual perspective. In this blog, I will try to briefly touch on some of the major discussion points in the hope that we all examine about this more and refine our thinking on the matter. 

Primate medical experimentation is used for more complicated disease research that cannot be wholly accomplished with mice, rats, rabbits, pigs, etc. The primate model is a very costly, but sometimes a necessary model because it provides a unique view of how special treatments or medicines will behave in a human system. From stem cell research to tissue regeneration studies, primates are critical to industry's ability to make strides in these areas, and ultimately improve human health. However, there is often abuse, misuse, and questionable decision-making about how many primates are used and for what purpose. What is that fine line in research that necessitates using primates? What is serious enough disease state, or a promising enough treatment? HIV? Hepatitis-C? Multiple Sclerosis? And, how do we balance the use of primates against the need to progress science and discovery. 

Recent recommendations from the government call for a major reduction in primate medical experimentation. Some of these recommendation assess the burden of the high financial costs of maintaining a primate experimentation lab. Others touch on the broader ethical and spiritual complications, with consistent pressure from outside groups (PETA, Primate Freedom Project). The pressures will no doubt increase as primate behavioral research continues to show primates have incredible learning abilities (Baboon Reading Skills: Research Shows Baboons Can Learn To Spot Real Word, The Huffington Post) 

This conflict may continue to increase as the focus of the pharmaceutical industry turns to more niche drugs (for cancer, Alzheimer's, etc) that could require primate experimentation. At its core, this is an important issue for everyone to understand and begin to form an opinion on. For more related information on the topic follow this link (Laboratory chimps get a new lease on life) and stay tuned to my blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment