The National Health and Medical Research facility in Wallacia breeds baboons for medical research. Photo: Dallas Kilponen Photo of a baboon undergoing experimental testing at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney. Photo: Source Journal of Medical Primatology
Senator Rhiannon told Fairfax Media she believed the public would be “deeply shocked” to know what has been going on behind closed doors. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Imported primates ‘suffering’: RSPCAThe sad tale of a baboon named Scar
Scores of medical experiments on primates are being conducted in secret at a number of Sydney hospitals and universities including an apparent cover-up of a kidney transplant from a pig to a baboon.
Fairfax Media has uncovered evidence during a six-month investigation about what has been dubbed Frankenstein-like surgical experiments undertaken on primates using taxpayer funds.
Hundreds of primates have been imported into Australia for experiments, while animals are also bred specifically for medical research at the National Health and Medical Research Council baboon colony in Wallacia, in the west of Sydney, and marmoset and macaque colonies in Churchill, Victoria.
Millions of dollars of research grants are being used for a variety of experiments but the hospitals involved have refused to release details about how many baboons or other primates have been experimented on, and how many have died or had to be killed.
NSW Health also denied a whole organ transplant had taken place, despite details emerging of Conan, a baboon who had to be killed because of fatal complications arising from the insertion of a pig’s kidney into his body.
Some of the experiments that have come to light include marmosets being used at the University of Sydney to take electrophysiological readings from their brains before they were killed with an overdose and then had their eyes removed so their retinas could be dissected.
In a separate experiment on pregnant baboons, a mother was killed by accident leaving an orphaned baby, and another baby baboon died as a result of the testing. ‘Paving the way for new treatments’
A spokeswoman from the Sydney Local Health District responsible for Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, which oversees the baboon colony and also conducts experiments, said: “The colony has helped medical researchers conduct important research which has contributed significantly to paving the way for new treatments of disorders such as pre-eclampsia, complicated diabetes, kidney disorders and vascular diseases.”
A spokeswoman for the University of Sydney said it had an ongoing program and a number of initiatives to reduce, refine and replace the use of all animals, including primates, in research.
She said there was one approved protocol in the field of biomedical research at the university involving research on a small number of primates.
She said the university used approximately eight marmosets a year and “all procedures were performed on fully anaesthetised animals that were then euthanased – the animals were never aware of these procedures and did not feel any pain”.
“All researchers would prefer not to use animals in their research. However, in their quest to cure blindness, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and many other illnesses, animal research is currently the best hope for finding a cure,” she said.
Conan underwent a whole organ (kidney) transplant known as xenotransplantation from a genetically modified pig at Westmead Hospital in early 2014. Fairfax Media has seen information that confirmed Conan was “humanely” killed on March 20, 2014, after suffering “disseminated intravascular coagulation” – the widespread formation of blood clots, which can cut off blood flow and damage organs.
But NSW Health responded to a freedom of information request just months later contradicting that and denying in writing that research for diabetes had progressed to whole organ transplants. Yet the NHMRC has acknowledged in writing that it has funded research for “whole organ animal to animal xenotransplantation”. Cover-up seen in contradictory statements
The revelations about the experiments comes as a Senate inquiry gets under way into the import of primates into Australia for medical research.
The committee will report in the first week of March before a private member’s bill banning the practice of importing primates is put before the Parliament by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.
Senator Rhiannon told Fairfax Media she believed the public would be “deeply shocked” to know what has been going on behind closed doors.
She said contradictory statements between state and federal departments were starting to look like a cover-up and the secrecy with which the experiments were carried out shows that agencies know it would be unacceptable to the public.
Helen Marston, the chief executive officer of Humane Research Australia, said “the industry is shrouded in secrecy despite the fact that it is funded with our tax dollars and few Australians are even aware that primates are used in research here”.
Ms Marston said that, unless there is greater transparency, it will not be possible to have an open and honest debate.
“Aside from the ethical dilemma of using animals with such highly cognitive abilities and well-developed social structures as mere tools for research, the use of primates is poorly predictive of human outcomes,” Ms Marston said.
“The procedures these animals have been subjected to are gruesome and could even be compared with Frankenstein-like experiments, and much of it is undertaken using taxpayer funds,” she said. Testing ‘cannot be justified’
A new research paper from Cruelty Free International researchers, Predicting Human Drug Toxicity and Safety via Animal Tests, found that “in combination with an unprecedented level of public concern over the use of animals in science and the high ethical costs of doing so, we conclude that the preclinical testing of pharmaceuticals in animals cannot currently be justified, ethically or scientifically”.
A recent publication Animal Law in Australasia, containing research from Australian academics including associated professor Celeste Black from Sydney University, has said that many Australians “still assume that current animal welfare laws provide animals with sufficient protection from human mistreatment, that cruelty is the exception and that, when exposed, perpetrators are prosecuted. They are wrong on all counts.”
Fairfax Media has seen information showing that Conan was being held in the “Vivarium” at Westmead Hospital with three other baboons named Scar, Belvedere and Frazer. Scar had been subjected to the transgenic (genetically modified) pig islet transplants and was on large doses of immunosuppressant drugs. It is understood that Scar was to be returned temporarily to the baboon colony in Wallacia.
Belvedere and Frazer, Fairfax Media has been told, were “rendered diabetic” and were waiting for transplant of islet cells from piglets that were due to be born in June 2014. The fate of Scar, Belvedere and Frazer is not known. A research paper cited by Humane Research Australia said baboons used for islet transplants were later anaesthetised, had their livers removed and were killed. Piglets bred and used for the islets were also killed.
Attempts by Fairfax Media to gain information including photos, video, and details of the lifespans of Conan, Scar and Belvedere using freedom of information were blocked by NSW Health, which said “there was an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information”.
It said the information requested could “reasonably be expected to inform the public about research being performed”.
It also said that revealing the information could “prejudice the conduct, effectiveness or integrity of any research by revealing its purpose, conduct or results (whether or not commenced and whether or not completed)”.
The spokeswoman for Prince Alfred Hospital said the use of the animals from the baboon colony complied with all relevant legislation. She said the colony was regularly inspected by the Sydney Local Health District’s Animal Ethics Committee. Colony can house up to 165
A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries said “the baboon facility at Wallacia was last inspected in July 2012 as part of the routine schedule of inspections and will be visited again in 2016”.
He said the DPI could confirm that the care and management of baboons at Wallacia was satisfactory.
He said the information on the number of animals held at a facility at any one time was not held by the DPI but the colony was allowed to house up to 165 baboons.
The federal government’s Department of Health website acknowledges that the “use of non-human primates for scientific purposes raises special ethical and welfare issues”.
It says that “the National Health and Medical Research Council recognises that there are differing views in the community about the use of non-human primates for scientific purposes. The NHMRC seeks to ensure that any non-human primates used in government-funded research are used ethically and treated humanely and only used when there is no valid alternative.”
“A ban on the use of non-human primates would need to be given effect through state and territory legislation. The success of such a ban would be reliant on the implementation and enforcement effort of state and territory legislation.” A baboon named Scar
Scar was the largest of the baboons being held at the Vivarium at Westmead Hospital when he had a transplant of neonatal islet cells from piglets.
The baboon had survived for six weeks and, if he continued, he would be “the first baboon in the world to have survived a sustained xenotransplant”, according to information given to Fairfax Media.
There was concern that the researchers conducting the experiments on him didn’t want the baboon to be returned to the Wallacia baboon colony because of hygiene concerns even though he had been held inside for nearly three months and it is an accreditation requirement that animals get daytime access to an outside enclosure after three months of being housed indoors.
It is understood that those overseeing his care were told that “the conditions were far from ideal for a very immune compromised animal (with virtually no T cells) to be housed in. Even though it was considered a good environment, [it] could not be considered a clean environment. Vermin and birds have access to the area and the risk of infection to the baboon is highly likely”.
Fairfax Media believes they were told that, if they sent him back to the unhygienic environment where he could contract a bacterial infection, it would be “disastrous”.
The fate of Scar is unknown.
NSW Health refused to release any information about him.
Do you know more? Email [email protected]老域名出售备案老域名
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名购买.