This announcement represents a victory for Antidote Europe. The NIH announcement is in line with our position that no animal species can be considered as a « model » for humans.
Paris, 24 November 2015 – The NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA), the biggest biomedical research organisation in the world « will no longer fund biomedical research on chimpanzees». This statement by NIH director Francis Collins, made on 18 November 2015 (1) is in response to a scientific report commissioned two years ago from the Institute of Medicine (IOM, USA) that also included scientific evidence presented by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (2).
The chimpanzee is our closest evolutionary cousin and therefore the best « animal model » possible, if such a thing exists. And since all other animal species are evolutionarily more distant, the inescapable conclusion is that they are even less appropriate « models ». Abandoning the chimpanzee must inevitably lead to a domino effect in terms of all the other models, including other primates, dogs, rats, mice, zebra fish and finches.
To remain consistent with its position on chimpanzees, the NIH should henceforth stop financing all biomedical research involving « animal models ». For Antidote Europe, this historic announcement represents much more than a victory at saving an endangered species. As demonstrated and repeated by our organisation for the past 10 years : one species of animal cannot be considered as a predictive model for a different animal species.
It now remains to be seen whether those who cling to the animal model will come out of the closet in order to prove – and not simply claim – that the NIH has got it wrong, or alternatively, that an animal model more distant than the chimpanzee will do the trick.
The question that we must now ask ourselves is : will France be among the first countries– or the last – to recognise the failure of the animal model and the need to replace it with 21st century technology ?
Claude Reiss, president of Antidote Europe, past CNRS research director 0033.4.76.36.35.87
Andre Menache, director Antidote Europe, veterinary surgeon : 0044.7906.446889