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Non-Human Primates for Medical Research
There have been concerns and uncertainty on the suitability of making use of non-human primates for the medical research, majorly because of the evolutionary closeness to the human beings. Debate around this topic has become polarized, Proponents arguing that there are no harmful effects from using the animals and that its abolition would amount in the loss of large information that polarizes the debate on this topic (Bell et al, 2006). However, such researches subject the non-human primates to the experiments that first make them ill, then try to treat them using various techniques under test or research. These techniques are not only degrading to the animals, but are also unsafe, since some animals die in the process of the researches. Use of non-human primates for medical research is misleading, ineffective and harms not only the animals, but also people.
The major use of animals in the medical research is to test the safety of medicine before usage by human beings. However, primates’ records at foreseeing and predicting the side effects of drugs has been terrible (Wolfe-Coote, 2005). Many drugs that were safe for the animals either caused harm or killed human beings when used. For instance, in 2006, six young men lost their lives in Northwick Park hospital after taking a new drug proven safe on monkeys even in high doses. In 2004, arthritis drug Vioxx led to the loss of more than 140,000 lives, making it the worst drug disaster in the history, despite working well on monkeys.
The second main use of primates in the medical research involves brain research (National Research Council 2003). However, the most striking differences between primates and human beings are in the brains. Alzheimer’s using primates did not inform the medical community about the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Tangles and plagues in the brain are the characteristics of the disease in people, but not in monkeys. Monkeys tolerated the Alzheimer’s “vaccine—AN-1792”, but it caused inflammation of the nervous system and strokes in humans. Development in treating strokes also shows another example presentating the difference between the primate and human’s brain rests. These drugs worked in primates, but none of them worked on human beings, sometimes some of them were harming the patients while on trial.
Medical community also makes use of primates to carry out studies on infectious diseases (Wolfe-Coote, 2005). However, even chimpanzees, which are the closest to the human beings, are immune to human malaria, Hepatitis B and C, AIDS virus and many other dangerous human pathogens. It is, therefore, futile to study such infections on animals, while they cannot contract them in the same way as the human beings. Moreover, the medical practitioners agree that there are fundamental differences in genetic and biochemical makeup between primates and human beings, which makes primates prone to some illnesses, which the primates cannot contract. For instance, the human genes present larger susceptibility to age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Moreover, 80% of proteins in chimpanzee are different to some extent compared to those of the human beings.
Putting an end to the use of non-human primates would be beneficial to the human medicine by bringing to a stop the flow of unreliable data derived from such researches, and making use of more promising and reliable research methods. This will include making use of human-based tests, which will offer relevant and reliable information on which research can be conducted further (National Research Council, 2003). The findings of this research apply to the hospitals without any fears of further loss of lives. Moreover, medical practitioners should take advantage of the new inventions and technologies like micro fluid devices, micro dosing, computer modeling and scanning technologies to conduct their researches. This will not only end human suffering, but also the non-human primate’s suffering.
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