NIH to Torment Marmosets in Alzheimer's Experiments: Stop This Now!

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family of marmoset monkeys

The National Institute on Aging (NIA)—part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—plans to torment marmoset monkeys in order to study Alzheimer's disease. It's a proposition that guarantees more taxpayer-funded cruelty, and it's absolutely doomed to fail. Here's why:

  • We've been down this road before, and it fails and fails and fails.
    For decades, NIH has spent millions funding the torture and killing of countless animals in Alzheimer's experiments. No new drugs have been developed that cure or even slow the progression of the disease. Using animals to predict whether potential drugs to treat Alzheimer's will be safe and effective in humans has failed 99.6% of the time.
  • Alzheimer's disease is a human-only condition.
    Humans are the only species that develops Alzheimer's disease. Experimenters inject animals with toxins, deprive their brains of oxygen, or surgically cause strokes in order to induce symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's—but it's not the same as the human form of the disease. Plastic fruit can sure look like actual fruit, but it definitely doesn't taste the same. And you can't cure a disease by curing a symptom that kind of looks like those produced by the disease.
  • Life in a laboratory is hell.
    Stereotypic behavior patterns—such as pacing, rocking, twisting their heads, and eating their feces—and forms of severe self-mutilation, such as biting themselves and pulling out their own hair, always follow when complex, social animals are kept in barren cages and subjected to confusing and often painful experimental procedures. Imprisoned marmosets are also prone to an ugly condition known as "marmoset wasting disease," the symptoms of which include weight loss, diarrhea, hair loss, muscle weakness, inflammation of the small and large intestines, paralysis, and death.
  • There are better options.
    In vivo imaging in humans who suffer from or are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is helping researchers understand the genetic, environmental, and neurobiological underpinnings of the disease. Cutting-edge technology, including three-dimensional brains grown from human cells, are more accurate and detailed models of the disease—and they can also be used to test drug efficacy and safety. Using solid, verifiable science to study the actual disease that you're trying to cure actually yields results. Who knew?
  • Experiments on animals are unethical.
    Humans don't have the right to treat other animals like tools to be used and thrown out. Imprisoning vulnerable and sensitive animals and experimenting on them is just wrong. Please urge NIA not to squander taxpayer dollars on cruel and worthless experiments on marmosets—and ask it to redirect funds to modern, superior, non-animal research methods instead.

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Richard J.
Hodes, M.D.
National Institute on Aging

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