Tighter regulations proposed for animal testing in UK
A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences suggests that tighter regulations should be put in place for animal testing.
The writers of the report are concerned by the increasing popularity of experiments involving the insertion of human materials into animals.
The report praises the benefits of the new technique, which has allowed researchers to test cancer drugs on human tissue attached to mice.
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However, it warns that the involvement of human materials increases the ethical complexity of animal testing. It suggests that current regulations are not always applicable.
For example, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority prohibits the progression of any embryo that contains predominantly human material beyond 14 days. However, for embryos that are mostly animal but contain some human material, there are no regulations in place.
The report recommends three categories for studies involving animal testing, with category three experiments being banned.
The progression of the embryo containing some human material would be classified as a category three experiment.
Category two experiments would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the requirement that strong scientific justification must be provided. The addition of human genes to non-human primates would fall under this category.
Finally, category one experiments would be treated as any other test on an animal, with no additional regulations being imposed.
The UK government has said it will consider the proposal.