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Cruel tests on cats highlight urgent need for alternatives
SHOCKING reports of research involving sewing the eyes of kittens together to test for the development of amblyopia (lazy eye) highlight the urgent need for funding so that more humane non-animal alternatives can be found, according to the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research (DHT).
Kailah Eglington, Chief Executive of the DHT, said: “Such painful experiments on animals should be confined to history.
“It is important to know whether the researchers at Cardiff University could have used an experimental design other than sewing the kitten’s eyes shut to investigate. If so, then there would be no reason to use cats and a more human relevant experiment could have been undertaken instead, using FMRI or other non-invasive techniques on humans, which would also give more relevant results.”
Funding from the DHT has, for example, enabled Professor Furlong and the team at Aston University to carry out a whole array of non-invasive human brain research without using animals in areas including behaviour, pain, hearing, speech and vision.
Aston University’s Professor Anderson also stated in a 2006 review paper that: “many technical and analytical advances made within the field of neuroimaging are beginning to pay dividends for the study of human amblyopia”. He also emphasised that previous animal studies do not correlate with newer human studies.
Animal use has reached its highest level in 24 years despite major scientific advances and changes in attitude that have seen the use of alternatives to animal experiments become an accepted part of everyday science.
In 2011, nearly 3.8 million animal experiments were carried out involving animals such as mice, cats and dogs.
Kailah Eglington added: “The updating of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is an important step forward in helping to replace the use of animals in medical research and in enshrining the 3R’s principles of reduction, refinement and replacement of animal experimentation in law.
“But it is clear that much work remains to be done to reduce the use of animals in experiments and to promote the development of proven alternatives that are better scientifically, economically and morally.”
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