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Massey dog experiments 'scientifically dubious'

Tuesday August 30th

Massey dog experiments 'scientifically dubious' say anti vivisectionists

An anti vivisection group says Massey Universities research into rare diseases using dogs is scientifically flawed. Massey University has admitted breeding dogs with a rare genetic disorder in order to use them in medical research.

But the National Anti Vivisection Campaign says this approach is not only unethical but scientifically dubious.

"If they intend to use the dogs as a "model" for the equivalent disorder in humans, then their science is flawed, because they are assuming that the dogs and humans will respond in a similar way to treatment" said NAVC spokesperson Mark Eden.

"It has been shown again and again that at the cellular and physiological level, which is where drugs and enzyme replacements have their effect, that dogs or other animals and humans are so different that it is not possible to extrapolate from one species to the other".

Massey researchers claim they are breeding the dogs in order to experiment with gene therapy at a research institute in Adelaide.

"Gene therapy is particularly problematic. It is essentially a form of genetic modification, where a good copy of the defective gene is inserted into the individual. Like all genetic modification it is a hit and miss affair and it is not possible to know where the gene will be inserted, or the random effects that the influence of the foreign gene may have on the rest of the genome" said Mr Eden.

"The vectors used to insert the gene are viruses, and there is a danger that these will proliferate in the patient or cause cancer. The difference between the genetic makeup of complex organisms like humans and dogs multiplies the uncertainty still further.

This has been tragically demonstrated when a gene therapy trial for a rare liver disease that was successful in animal trials killed the first patient it was tried upon, because the viral vector used to insert the gene multiplied uncontrollably in the human patient".

"Gene therapy may someday be a viable method to treat and cure disease in humans. But the only way we will ever get to that point is by studying human tissue and human beings. Studying genetic disorders in dogs will in all likelihood just waste valuable resources and ultimately harm humans" he said.


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