Answering claims on use of animals in research
IN her letter "Campaign seeks an end to research on animals" (Derby Telegraph, September 9) Dawn Spencer, of Animal Aid, makes a number of claims that cannot pass unchallenged.
Ms Spencer claimed that Parkinson's UK does not wish people to find out how much we spend on research involving animals. I am happy to be open about this. Some 40% of the £4.6m we spend on research each year is on projects involving animals.
Our research work is governed by some of the toughest restrictions in the world, enforced by the Home Office. Details of our UK-funded research are on our website and the research strategy which specifies the development of new models is publicly available. Our policy is also on our website.
Ms Spencer said that "people wanted… alternative research using tissue cells". We fund the Parkinson's UK Brain Bank, which supplies donated human brain tissue for Parkinson's research. However, the use of human tissue is not appropriate in every case.
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She comments that "animal experiments can be unreliable and… misleading". We know that research involving animals has been demonstrated to help to identify improved treatments, help us gain a greater understanding of the causes of the Parkinson's and ultimately lead to the development of a cure.
Since the 1970s, the lives of millions of people with Parkinson's have been transformed by taking the drug levodopa, which would not have been developed without the insights gained from research involving animals.
People who give money to Parkinson's UK can choose to support other areas as we also fund campaigning and support to improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's. We'll keep doing that until we find a cure.
Dr Kieran Breen
Director of research and innovation