November 13, 2005
HEART SPECIALIST CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE DOG RESEARCHERS' LICENCES
A British university research team that, for 16 years, has conducted lethal
experiments on dogs - funded in large part by the British Heart Foundation -
has come under scathing attack by a noted US cardiologist.
Since 1989, the Leeds Medical School team has killed around 100 beagle dogs
in experiments measuring physiological responses to various experimental
heart-related procedures. The Home Office classifies this as 'basic'
research, in that it has no direct or immediate human benefit (1). In the
experiments, anaesthetised dogs had their chests opened, their spinal cords
severed, their blood drained and re-circulated, and nerves to the brain, gut
and diaphragm cut.
In his critique (2) of the Leeds experiments, heart specialist and
award-winning researcher, Dr. John J. Pippin (3), describes the Leeds
Medical School research as 'a startling example of the pursuit of
disconnected scientific knowledge with no clear human benefits, and to the
detriment of dogs'. He has called on the Home Office to revoke the licence
of those involved.
Dr Pippin adds:
'This work provides an exceptional example of a common practice: the
manipulation of animal models for convenience and usefulness, regardless of
the effects upon the validity of results obtained. This is not uncommon
among those researchers who propose and perform studies to satisfy their
scientific curiosity and sustain their careers, without sufficient regard
for potential applications to humans.'
As well as his challenge to the Home Office, Dr Pippin has called upon the
British Heart Foundation to demonstrate what - if any - benefits to human
health have been produced by the large sums of the public's money given to
Dr Pippin was alerted to the team's work by Animal Aid, which turned to an
overseas leader in the field because of an intellectual climate in British
science that the national campaign group describes as 'punitive in response
to those who break ranks and confront the system'.
Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler concludes:
'These many years of cruel and pointless experiments represent a major
scandal, for which the licensing authorities at the Home Office are
principally to blame. This, like so much animal experimentation, is not
about science or helping humans. It is about the search for grants, academic
prestige and career development. The British Heart Foundation is also at
fault for bankrolling this research. We back Dr Pippin's call for the
immediate revocation of the relevant licences.'
Notes to Editors
In 2003, Basic Research made up 30% of all UK animal experiments.
Dr Pippin's critique of the Leeds experiments - together with background on
basic research - has been published in a new Animal Aid report. Called
Curiosity Killed the Dog - a report on the use of animals in basic research,
it is available at www.animalaid.org.uk/preview, entering the username
'press' and the password 'Pippin'.
John J Pippin MD graduated from the University of Massachusetts Medical
School in 1980 and subsequently specialised in nuclear cardiology. Among his
academic appointments are faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and
the Medical College of Virginia. In addition to his numerous scientific
publications, he is the recipient of several prestigious awards for clinical
and research excellence.
There were 7,094 experiments using 5,088 dogs in 2003 (mostly for regulatory
toxicology). (ref: 2003 HOME OFFICE STATISTICS OF SCIENTIFIC PROCEDURES ON
LIVING ANIMALS - Great Britain)
The misleading evidence from animal experiments:
-kills 106,000 Americans every year (290 per day)
-kills more UK citizens than cancer
-kills and permanently injures 70,000 people in the UK every year
-causes thousands of birth defects every year - which are now running at
rates over 300 times those from the 1940s.
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