Eleven years after their rescue from HIV/AIDS and other research, Sue Ellen, Rachel, Pepper, and others are now ambassadors for Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, NEAVS’ national campaign to end the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research.
Their anniversary, celebrated at Fauna Foundation—the first sanctuary to accept HIV-infected chimpanzees—comes on the heels of research showing that the failure to develop a successful HIV/AIDS vaccine for humans can be attributed to the use of chimpanzees.
“An Assessment of the Role of Chimpanzees in AIDS Vaccine Research" was published in the October issue of the international journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA). It showed that most of the vaccines developed to date were tested in chimpanzees who endured decades of experiments. Almost all of the vaccines protected chimpanzees from HIV infection, but none were successful in humans. Investigation of the reasons chimpanzees are a poor model for HIV infection led the paper’s author, geneticist and NEAVS/Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, PhD, to conclude that “claims of the importance of chimpanzee research for human health are misleading and a call to return to their use is without scientific justification.” As a result of rescues like that of Sue Ellen, Pepper, and others, the world is coming to know chimpanzees who suffered dearly in research.