Animal experimentation is sold to society as an alleged human medical practice, which also involves subjecting sentient animals to shocking cruelty that would otherwise be prosecuted outside the environment of a medical research laboratory. Animal experiments are now proven by current medical understanding to also cause – including fatal – harm to human patients, and this evidence is increasingly being highlighted by leading scientific journals, including the British Medical Journal. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies openly acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process and write about this often in the scientific literature.
As a patient advocacy initiative with a growing membership of critically ill people, their families, friends and carers, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of opposing the funding policies of the Dr Hadwen Trust (DTH) which is charity supported by many who also support us, whom we admire and respect. Nevertheless, we feel obliged to speak out and offer the following statement:
The DHT advertises itself as the ‘UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity’, so we were shocked to have recently learnt that over 1/3rd of its scientists are actually animal modelers too, which means that our donations have been supporting those animal labs and their staff. Four of the DHT’s scientists have published results of invasive experiments on mice this year, some of the mice were tumor bearing, others were alleged models of Huntingdon’s disease, others had their kidneys damaged and others were alleged models of prostrate cancer. Three of the scientists used rat and mice cells, but all the scientists claimed that their experiments were predictive of human patients, capable of shedding light on the human situation. Although the DHT are paying these scientists to carry out non-animal work, these researchers will not abandon their animal models. They claim that the ‘whole intact systems of mice’ have important predictive value for humans which is still valuable in medical research today. This position supports their careers, publications and also sustains lucrative grants which support the universities at which they work. And recent Home Office figures confirm that this position has also produced in an all time high number of procedures on laboratory animals, reflecting the money spent and earnt. For more on this money which maintains such false animal models please listen to the recent Talk Radio Europe interview with the president of our medical Board.
We believe that one of the reasons the Dr Hadwen Trust are funding animal modelers is that they are part of the 3Rs system: ‘reduction of animal numbers, refinement of harmful procedures on animals and replacement with alternatives’. The 3Rs are actually promoted by the UK’s PR company for the animal model community ‘Understanding Animal Research‘ and it is for this reason we flag it up. It’s a system which is 50 years out-of-date, introduced half a decade ago by Russell and Burch to encourage ‘humane experimental technique‘ on live animals – surely a contradiction in terms. The 3Rs imposes strict limitations on the language its users can use, thereby avoiding current medical understanding which exposes animal models as also causing serious harm to human patients. We have noticed that many 3Rs users are charities which may be limited by the Charity Commission’s rules about not campaigning politically.
The DHT concentrates on the ‘R’ which stands for ‘replacement with alternatives’. The word ‘alternative’ is employed prolifically on the pages of the DHT’s website, but current medical knowledge now proves that there is no alternative to animal experimentation because it has never worked to begin with. The correct scientific term for human-based research is valid or viable…this is not an alternative.
You’ll see from the animal modelers who are funded by the DHT that they are comfortable using the word alternative, it suggests that their mice models and rat cells are valid for humans – which they claim is true – but in the meantime they can be less cruel to animals by ‘validating an alternative’. This is medical nonsense! Animal models have never been validated in the first place, and human-based methods are not ‘replacements’, they are the only viable option if we are to successfully tackle the increase in crippling diseases afflicting patients and their families today.
In conclusion, all 3Rs users claim that there are times when animal models are still ‘appropriate’, that animal models need to be gradually ‘phased out’ but can be abandoned if a validated ‘alternative exist’ – none of which is true. Animal models do not work, and the funding of animal modelers needs to be abandoned, along with the 3Rs, if the search for effective treatments and cures is to be accelerated.
We hope and trust that our position statement, above, is helpful. There are many medical research funders who do not confine themselves to the 3Rs, and fund human-based research using correct scientific terms. Many of these great causes are listed here, on Animal Aid’s Victims of Charities website.
In closing, we would like to suggest that the DTH develop a programme of funding newly qualified PhDs, who would then be bound to a five year contract that would prevent them stepping onto the animal model ladder. It is completely unnecessary to fund any scientist who experiments on animals, and it is entirely possible develop a funding system outside the 3Rs which can have an immensely positive effect.
Helping universities tick their 3Rs’ ‘alternative’ box to keep the Home Office happy, thereby giving the illusion that your institution is making a difference, actually only helps keep the wheels of false animal models in perpetual motion. We must oppose the 3Rs and use only correct scientific terms if we are to effectively help and heal all involved.
If you haven’t done so already, please ask your MP to sign EDM 373: its vital call for a public, medical science hearing will hear evidence that will be judged by independent experts from the relevant fields of scientific expertise, whose decision can then be submitted to Governments internationally to change the law, (and save them money too!).
For a list of the animal modelers funded by the DHT please visit this link.