(ANIMAL TESTING/ ANIMAL CRUELTY) Lab testing conducted on sheep at Cambridge University is proving fatal. The animal testing in question is meant to uncover cures for Huntington’s disease and Batten disease.
Lab workers first infect the sheep with the disease and originally monitor them, however, they then leave the poor animals to suffer and die. This type of testing results in multiple harmful effects for the sheep such as weight loss, blindness, and disorientation.
Read on to learn about the abuse these innocent sheep endure, and how you can take action against animal testing. — Global Animal
Mirror, Nick Owens & Ben Glaze
Lab test sheep at Cambridge University are being left to suffer in pain and misery for pointless experiments, claim animal welfare campaigners.
The helpless creatures are infected with diseases, then their brains are wired up to electrodes while scientists monitor how long it takes them to go blind, lose control of their bodies and eventually die.
And failings in how they are cared for can result in even worse suffering, says a report by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.
An investigator who worked undercover in the lab at Britain’s top university claimed one blind sheep was left sitting in her own faeces for days before she was finally put down. Another animal suffered a broken leg after “rough handling” by a worker.
The experiments are part of research to aid the treatment of Huntington’s disease and Batten disease. Both
are incurable, fatal conditions of the nervous system.
According to the BUAV report, the sheep testing “did not advance the research for cures”, a claim the university denies.
Dr Katy Taylor, BUAV’s head of science said:
“It is clear sheep used in the research suffered greatly and at times unnecessarily.”
Their undercover investigator worked inside the university’s department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience for two months.
The sheep used are flown 11,000 miles from New Zealand, before living out their short lives in the lab. The report claims one four-month old lamb was so ill after the flight it had to be put down at a UK airport.
Healthy ewes are artificially inseminated with sperm from diseased males suffering a Batten-like disease.
Once at the university – where 135,000 animal experiments a year are conducted – they undergo surgery to
fit electrodes into their brains so scientists can monitor them.
According to the BUAV, diseased ewes started to lose their sight within six months and become disorientated.
Video footage appears to show the creatures stumbling into objects and banging their heads. Many quickly lose weight because they have difficulty eating, it is claimed.
The report, passed to the Sunday Mirror, says:
“These signs get progressively worse until the animals die at about two years old.”
It also claims researchers failed to provide sufficient night-time and weekend care for animals.
“One sheep was left in a pitiful state – less than half the normal body weight, virtually blind and lying in faeces – for several days during which she deteriorated further rather than being killed when it was obvious she was suffering grievously.”
A Cambridge spokesman promised an investigation and said the university took “very seriously” any allegation of animals being mistreated.
“The University strongly agrees with, and rigidly follows, guiding principles emphasised by the Home Office on the need to refine protocols, keep the numbers of animals used to a minimum and replace the use of animals with other methods where possible.”
“We believe good science and good animal welfare go hand in hand. The UK has the most rigorous animal welfare regulations in the world, and Cambridge has always adhered to these.”
The case for research: The patient
Afflicted Charles Sabine is in the early stages of Huntington’s, which killed his father.
The inherited and incurable condition causes abnormal movement and dementia.
Charles, 54, said: “There is no more appalling disease to suffer, for the patient or the families. It’s a complete breakdown of the human condition.
“I absolutely support anything that could even give hope of a treatment. The end absolutely justifies the means.”
The sheep were “engaged in a trial of one of the very few real hopes of treatment”.
Charles added: “If they (those against the tests) had any idea of what this disease was like, they would never even consider hindering research.”
The case for research: The scientist
The sheep tests are vital in the fight to cure the “terrible” brain disease, says Professor Sarah Tabrizi.
People with an affected parent have a 50:50 chance of getting Huntington’s, which strikes at around 40.
Prof Tabrizi, based at London’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, said: “Scientists have to try to model the disease in animals if there is to be any hope of treatment.
“Animals such as the sheep in Cambridge are pivotal – they will help us develop ways to switch off the abnormal gene.
“The reason scientists use sheep is that, unlike rodents, the size of a sheep’s brain is nearer to that of the human.”
Treatment for Huntington’s would have a big impact on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, she said.