Cages of monkeys in the HLS experimentation laboratory.
Replacement of primate use with advanced techniques, or other sources of the information being sought, is good for European science and industry, as well as for primates.
There must be a drive to replace primate use in regulatory testing – primates are a comparatively small part of the regulatory testing strategy for new products, used at a late stage, after tests have been conducted on other species. The use of primates in regulatory testing could , therefore, be replaced more easily than was the case for the EU cosmetics testing ban for example, which was more complex because it needed a ‘start to finish’ replacement strategy.
If the European Parliament and Member States are to respond to public concern and take serious steps on this issue, then it is vital that the animal tests be ended earlier in the regulatory testing programme and advanced non-animal techniques such as microdosing and toxicogenomics are used to replace animals. The fact that primates come late in the testing strategy means that by the time the monkeys were being strapped into restraint chairs for the experiments we have described below, hundreds even thousands, of smaller animals would already have died to test the same product.
This study of the use of primates in regulatory testing includes an insight into the functioning of a typical European commercial testing laboratory. An ADI/NAVS investigator worked as an animal technician in the primate toxicology units at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), Cambridgeshire, UK for a year, until the summer of 2008. Duties included cleaning and feeding the animals, as well as observing and assisting researchers and senior technicians with procedures; training included a UK Home Office animal technician training course.
HLS is a commercial toxicological testing facility. The nature of the experiments it conducts on behalf of its clients is to look for adverse effects or symptoms of test compounds. Its clients are manufacturers of drugs, chemicals and other products. They include GlaxoSmithKline, the Ministry of Defence, AstraZeneca among others. HLS has two establishments in the UK at Huntingdon Cambridgeshire and Eye, Suffolk, with its headquarters in the USA and the company employs in the region of 1,700 people. All of the experiments discussed here took place in the primate units in the HLS Huntingdon laboratories, which employs in the region of 900 people. © 2009 Animal Defenders International
A report on the use of primates in regulatory testing in a typical European commercial testing laboratory