Panel: Restrict Chimp Use In Research

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Chimpanzees should be subjects of biomedical research only under stringent conditions, including the absence of any other suitable model, a U.S. report says.

The report by the Institute of Medicine, part of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, said use of the animals should be permissible only if forgoing their use would prevent or significantly hinder advances necessary to prevent or treat life-threatening or debilitating conditions in humans.

The study was ordered by Congress and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

“The report’s recommendations answer the need for a uniform set of criteria for assessing the scientific necessity of chimpanzees in biomedical, comparative genomics, and behavioral research,” said committee chair Jeffrey Kahn of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore. “The committee concluded that research use of animals that are so closely related to humans should not proceed unless it offers insights not possible with other animal models and unless it is of sufficient scientific or health value to offset the moral costs.”

Based on those criteria, chimpanzees are not necessary for most biomedical research, the report said.

“We found very few cases that satisfy these criteria,” Kahn said.

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