Thursday, February 08, 2007

University of Toledo monkey deaths stir rights organization

monkey testingLast Friday, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an animal-rights group, announced that two squirrel monkeys died prematurely during research in May 2005 at UT's Health Science Campus.

"The animals were anesthetized throughout the duration of the experiment, they were never intended to, nor did they awaken from anesthesia and at no time did they experience any pain or suffering," said a statement released by UT.

According to a USDA inspection report, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which oversees UT's animal research, failed to notice how researchers weren't following protocol.

One of the monkeys received a tracheotomy, an incision in the windpipe, which was a breach in procedure, the inspection report said.

"The monkeys were supposed to be intubated," said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.

Budkie said that the primates died under questionable circumstances.

According to the UT statement, John Wall, a neuroscience professor, "deviated slightly" from approved protocol during an experiment.

Wall declined to comment.

According to The University of Toledo Web site, Wall is interested in "how normal and abnormal feelings of the body are generated by somatosensory circuits [or sensory receptors] in the brain."

"The goal of the [2005] research involving squirrel monkeys was to better understand how the brain responds and reorganizes itself following arm and leg injuries," the UT statement said. "Valuable knowledge was gained during the experiments."

"This research falls into [neural information processing] - it's one of the most duplicated types of research," Budkie said. "This type of research is being funded over and over again [by the National Institutes of Health], sometimes simultaneously."

Wall's research, officially tilted "Mechanisms & Substrates of Somatosensory Plasticity," was funded at $198,450.

Budkie also doubts the credibility of the research.

"If protocol wasn't followed, was the research even valid?" Budkie said.

The UT statement said that the researcher deviated from protocol to minimize harm to the primates.

UT failed to comment on how the deviation would have lessened danger to the animals.

The UT statement did say that there are no monkeys on either campus now.

As reported in the Nov. 30, 2006 issue of The Independent Collegian, "More than 300 mice and rats live in the basement of Wolfe and at least 6,000 mice and rats and one pig live in the basement of the Health Education Building [on the Health Science Campus]."

Director of UT animal labs Brent Martin was unavailable for comment.

Story here.

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