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Chimpanzees and Bad Research: It’s in the Genes


Chimpanzees and Bad Research: It’s in the Genes

BOSTON, MA  (January 2012)A new paper, “Lessons from Chimpanzee-Based Research on Human Disease: the Implications of Genetic Differences” published in the international journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals presents scientific arguments against the need for chimpanzees for current or future research for human health.

The study’s author, Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., geneticist and Science Director for NEAVS, critically assessed widespread claims that there is only a 1 or 2 % genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees. He found major implications of many minor differences that in combination lead to vastly different biology, including susceptibility to diseases, the course diseases take, immune functioning and other significant effects. While chimpanzees are our closest genetic relatives, in reality, we differ genetically by around 5-7%. This relatively small genetic difference makes the chimpanzee poorly relevant to human disease research—including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, and other areas. The study’s conclusions support an end to the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research, and a prioritization of the use of alternatives already available.

Says Bailey, “There are more humane, cheaper, and scientifically superior methods of research we could and should be using to replace chimpanzee research now and in the future. If we do not, we are causing chimpanzees to suffer and die needlessly, and shortchanging every person waiting for treatments, cures and preventions for the diseases that continue to take their toll on humans. Chimpanzee research doesn’t work because it can’t work.”

The study adds to the growing body of evidence against the use of chimpanzees. This includes several papers published by Bailey and others presented in his testimony before the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee, charged with assessing current and future needs for chimpanzees in biomedical research. The IOM’s nine-month investigation concluded: “most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary.” The Committee outlined stringent recommendations for when and if chimpanzees can be considered. The National Institutes of Health announced that it would accept all IOM conclusions and is currently assessing the implications for chimpanzee use in the U.S.

There are approximately 1,000 chimpanzees currently in U.S. labs. The vast majority are warehoused and not being used in active research. The U.S. is the only remaining nation maintaining or using chimpanzees for invasive biomedical research. Ten countries have banned or severely limited their use. Further, the European Union adopted Directive 2010/63 which bans the use of great apes in research in all EU countries. The only exception would be in the case of a pandemic or for conservation of the species. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection worked to pass Directive 2010/63 and partnered with NEAVS on Bailey’s genetic study. 


Theodora Capaldo, EdD
(o)  978 352 8175 (c) 617 413 0611
Jarrod Bailey, PhD
011 4414 346 72626

NEAVS (New England Anti-Vivisection Society) is a national 501(c)3 not for profit headquartered in Boston. Visit and NEAVS’ comprehensive website on chimpanzees,

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