Advent Calendar-18

We are demonstrating what happens in drug development and whilst initial studies generally occur in rodents, the rules at present require that toxicity is assessed in two non-human mammalian species. 
                 One of them has to be a large animal species.

These large animal species are often dogs, pigs which is about the size of human on four legs or commonly non-human primates. This is a highly emotive subject and it takes a special type of person to do this type of work. It is not something that I would wish to do. 

These animals are bred for this purpose and are well looked after.
These are used because the animals are closer to man and being bigger they process drugs less rapidly than rodents and may give you a better handle on doses to use in humans. This stage is required by the regulators at present.
In the UK it is increasingly difficult to work with/on non-human primates and stuff on the Great Apes (e.g. chimpanzees) was banned years ago. There are no groups in the UK that work on MS in monkeys and very few in Europe or the USA.
There is a colony of Japanese Macques (picture above) in the the NorthWest of the USA, that get a spontaneous demyelinating disease, which looks a bit like MS. It occurs in a few percent of animals each year. The affected animals hide there problems, in case they get bullied by other members in the colony. After a lot of looking it turns out that the cause of this disease is a virus abit like EBV…..maybe this could be a key in unravelling the mystery of MS?
CoI: members of TeamG are founders of Canbex that are developing drugs for the treatment of MS.

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  • Yep, you were correct MD, I do find it perturbing. When you say that no UK group uses non- human primates in MS research (and I guess you know about the various campaigns to try to gain 'personhood' for great apes), I'm just wondering which particular MS drugs (I'd imagine the chemo ones for sure but what about fingolomid etc) have been researched on these primates in other countries ?

    • The UK is at the forefront of animal rights and things that occur in the UK take time to filter down to other countries.

      Does non-human primate work on MS-related projects occur….yes it does.

    • You pick your model species to deal with the problem at hand, some agents do not work in rodents and only work on primates…this may justify their use to some…others may saw you can knockout the mouse gene and knock-in the human gene to make a humanised mouse…can you justify the time to make these on the off chance that they may work?

    • And this is why I don't think I can use a DMT. It may sound extreme to you and most people with MS but for me, I see no difference between a non-human primate and a human one when it comes to suffering. It's not an easy decision to make and I'm not making judgements about other people who decide to go ahead with DMTs but for me it is proving incredibly difficult – this little video of a monkey saving another one says it all. I'm not anthropomorphising about this, there is more than enough empirical and also now science -based knowledge that makes it clear that non-human primates experience pain and suffering, just as much as humans. – I truly wish it was not the case but I've managed 15 years without treatment and no edss (only because I've no lower limb motor symtoms whatsoever) so I guess I've just got to hope that I can manage another 15 years. Damn it!

    • There is no doubt that primates have amazing capabilities and sure they can feel pain, but I doubt any current MS drugs are causing overt pain. If they were theyt would be causing pain in the humans using them.Likewise not every drug is tested in non-human primates. For example, our drug was not tested in non-human primates but has been tested in human volunteers.

      However all drugs are tested in animals these are the rules. Would it make a difference in which type of animals? or do you take the stance that anything tested in animals is unusable? What about zebrafish, worms or flies

      This is your choice and you have to deal with this consequence of your choice……I respect thist.

      Where do you draw the line? Many people use nutriceuticals tht have no proof of efficacy but many of them may have also been examined in animal model (not from a regulatory perspective). Would that stop you using them also?

  • "For example, our drug was not tested in non-human primates but has been tested in human volunteers. "
    Which drugs are these? You are correct in that it is where you draw the line and for me it is with experimentation on non-human primates (and dogs but that is for more sentimental reasons). I'm not keen on any non-human animals being used, it is why I'm mainly vegan (apart from eggs from a friend's hens) for over 25 years now, and before that vegetarian. I do take vegan B12 and D3 but apart from this I rely on exercise and meditation to get by but I can reconcile to mice, worms, zebrafish, flies etc but not primates.. I'm under no illusions about the consequences of this. So I'd be interested in knowing what drugs are not tested on non-human primates. Thank you.

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