Should mouse lemurs replace mice in animal testing?

  • by
Mouse lemur

Mouse lemurs are the smallest primates. They are abundant in the jungles of Madagascar. They can be bred fast. They could be very useful with respect to animal testing for Alzheimer’s disease in humans. They could be useful to explore the genetics that underpins human dementia.

Mouse lemur

Mouse lemur. Photo: Wikpedia.

Treatments which have showed promise in Alzheimer’s in mice have not transferred successfully to humans. This is the perennial problem with animal testing. You can’t truly replicate how treatments affect humans unless you test on humans. Mouse lemurs apparently are susceptible to a dementia-like condition. They develop amyloid brain plaques.

“Some of the most fascinating and important questions the need to be answered are primates-specific. For those, we really need something besides humans to complement the work that has been done on mice.”

These are the words of Mark Krasnow, a biochemist from Stanford University in California. This is where we enter ethical issues. It is because the mouse lemur has a genetic link to humans that there is resistance to using this primate in animal testing. Ian Jackson of the University of Edinburgh is concerned that mutant lemurs will have to be created.

“They’re primates and there are a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t be doing experiments on non-human primates. There would need to be a very strong justification.”

It appears, therefore, that it is acceptable to do animal testing on non-primates but unacceptable to do it on primates. I can’t see the difference myself. All animal testing should be stopped and if you want to test creatures then we should test humans or create artificial structures which react in a very similar way to human anatomy.

Either way it is time we stopped testing on animals for human benefit. Animals are not ours to do as we want to do with them. They’re not ours to own, abuse, mistreat, scientifically test or in any other way use for our benefit. I’m with PETA all the way on this one. No doubt a lot of people will disagree with me but I don’t care.