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Experts Urge Limits on Medical Research on Chimpanzees
Date:12/15/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A long-awaited U.S. government-mandated report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research be conducted only in very limited circumstances.

The IOM, an independent body that is often charged with reviewing medical or scientific issues, has developed two sets of criteria to be used for deciding whether or not chimpanzees were necessary for biomedical research and for behavioral research.

The criteria included factors such as whether another suitable research model might be available, or whether the research could not be ethically performed in human subjects.

Based on this criteria, the panel concluded that the use of chimpanzees is not necessary for most medical research. One area where the committee felt chimpanzee research could possibly still provide a benefit in biomedical research was in monoclonal antibodies (a form of therapy used against cancer and other illnesses). The committee was spilt on whether such research might be necessary for the development of a preventive hepatitis C vaccine.

"When we applied the criteria to a number of disease areas and considered: 'Is there another model that could be used?' and 'Could this be done ethically in humans?' in many cases, the answer was yes," said committee member, Sharon Terry, president and CEO of Genetic Alliance in Washington D.C.

"The trajectory here is clear. While chimps were very useful in prior years, we will see a decline in their use in research," said Terry.

According to the Associated Press, the United States and the West African country of Gabon are the only two countries in the world known to conduct medical research with chimpanzees. The European Union banned this type of research in 2010. The use of chimpanzees for research in the United States has been on the decline, the AP
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