History in the Making

Historic defeat of a primate laboratory, at Cambridge University

In 2002, Drs. Shanks and Greek defeated plans to build a non-human primate laboratory at Cambridge University. Dr Greek was engaged as chief scientific witness for an historic UK coalition organised by Animal Aid and NAVS, entitled X-CAPE, formed to oppose a planning application by Cambridge University to build the primate lab.

Cambridge University wanted to build their laboratory on Green Belt land and therefore had to prove that their experiments were going to be ‘medically and scientifically in the national interest’. Dr Greek’s five hour oral testimony and written Proof of Evidence produced a precedent ruling on ‘medical and scientific, national interest grounds’, defeating Cambridge University’s false claims that primate experiments ‘save patients’ lives’. The government inspector ruled: ‘On the basis of the technical input, therefore, I could not conclude that need in the national interest is demonstrated insofar as this pertains to the scientific/medical research and procedures undertaken by the University’,

This landmark decision concluded what proved to be one of the most high profile planning applications in Britain, and made history. The Government Inspector’s decision supported up-to-date scientific understanding, founded upon current understanding of evolutionary biology, genetics and complexity science – explaining how and why animal experiments are failing the search for human treatments and cures. Today, this evidence is widely reported in the scientific literature outside the vested interests, including The British Medical Journal, who published an Editor’s Choice in 2014, titled ‘How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research’?  [1] This article concluded by quoting from the paper it cited:

“If research conducted on animals continues to be unable to reasonably predict what can be expected in humans, the public’s continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced”. (Emphasis added).

Pharmaceutical companies openly acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process, and write about this often in the scientific literature, please visit this link for extensive quotes.

The peer reviewed, lead article of the year in Business and Society Review  focuses on the harm caused to pharmaceutical companies and society as a whole, by the continued use of animal models; co-authored by finance professor Lisa Kramer and our senior doctor Ray Greek, it’s titled Human Stakeholders and the Use of Animals in Drug Development. 

The National Cancer Institute says we have lost cures for cancer because studies in rodents have been believed [2] and the FDA states that nine of ten new human medicines fail at the first stage clinical trials, because animals cannot predict human outcomes. [3]

And a growing number of internationally respected experts are warning about the dangers of the continued use of animal models as surrogate humans [4-6].  One of the most notable being award winning oncologist Dr Azra Raza, director of the MDS Centre at Columbia University, who stated this in her TEDx talk:

“One of the reasons is that our system for developing drugs for cancer is essentially broke. We CAN and SHOULD do better. I am here on this stage today really because of the mouse. Earlier this year I pointed out that one of the reasons we are not developing novel therapies for cancer fast enough is that we have been relying too much on animal models. I’ve been getting hate mails since then, but the fact of the matter is that we cured acute myeloid leukemia in mice back in 1977 and in humans to day we are using the same drugs with absolutely dreadful results. We have to stop studying mice because it is essentially pointless and we have to start studying freshly obtained human cells”. (Emphasis added).

Certainly the most famous example of all is penicillin. Arguably the most important medicine of all time, penicillin is cited in  Parliamentary EDM 66. Discovered by Alexander Fleming, this great cure was delayed for humans by over a decade because it has no effect on rabbits. Here is Alexander Fleming on animal testing:

‘How fortunate we didn’t have these animal tests in the 1940’s, for penicillin would probably never have been granted a license and the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realised.’ [7]

The purification of penicillin, by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, helped it become the miracle cure which has saved millions of human lives. Here is Howard Florey on thetoxicity tests:

‘Mice were used in the initial toxicity tests because of their small size, but what a lucky chance it was for in this respect man is like the mouse and not the guinea pig. If we had used guinea pigs exclusively we should have said that penicillin was toxic and we probably should not have proceeded to try and overcome the difficulties of producing the substance for trial in man.’ (Emphasis added) [8]

Today, decades of practical evidence documenting the failure of animal experiments have been placed within a wider context  to produce Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT, Drs. Shanks and Greek). Like all great scientific Theories, such as the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Relativity, TSMT places decades of practical evidence within a wider context – in this case evolutionary biology and complexity science – to explain how and why something always occurs: in this case, why animals will never be able to hold predictive value for humans.

For further reading, please visit peer reviewed paper ‘The Nuremberg Code subverts human health and safety by requiring animal modeling’  [9] available here. 


1.BMJ 2014;348:g3719
2. Gura T: ‘Cancer Models: Systems for identifying new drugs are often faulty’. Science. 1997, 278 (5340): 1041-1042. 10.1126/science.278.5340.1041.
3. FDA. 2010. FDA Issues Advice to Make Earliest Stages Of Clinical Drug Development More Efficient. FDA, June 18, 2009 2006 [cited March 7, 2010].
4.  Shanks N, Greek R Animal Models in Light of Evolution Boca Raton: Brown Walker Press; 2009.
5. Shanks N, Greek R, Greek J: Are Animal Models Predictive for Humans? Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2009, 4:2.
6. Heywood R. In: Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man. Lumley CE, Walker S Lancaster, Quay, editor. 1990. Clinical Toxicity – Could it have been predicted? Post-marketing experience; pp. 57–67.
7. Parke DV: Clinical Pharmacokinetics in Drug Safety Evaluation. ATLA 1994, 22:207-209.

8. Florey H: The advance of chemotherapy by animal experiment. Conquest 1953, 41:12.

9. Greek et al. BMC Medical Ethics 2012, 13:16.