National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

St. Bartholomew

At St Bartholomew’s Medical School, we discovered shocking arthritis and multiple sclerosis experiments on animals, funded by top charities.

  • Arthritis research was funded wholly or partly by the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council.

Rats and mice were used in an air pouch experiment, which is designed to induce an inflammation similar to that seen in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Air is injected under the skin just behind the shoulder blades forming a pouch, and then an irritant croton oil is added to it to exacerbate the inflammation. As the pouches get bigger and bigger, they begin to fall over onto one side of the animal’s body (they look just like large tumours). Sometimes they rupture, which causes great pain, and the animals have to be put down.

In another experiment, healthy rats were killed and sections of cartilage were taken from their joints. Under anaesthesia, pieces of rat cartilage were then implanted into the tissues under the skin of mice. These implants were left in place for two weeks. Four drugs already in use in people to treat arthritis (indomethacin, D-penicilliamine, dexamethasone and cyclophosphamide) were studied for their effects on the implanted cartilage. The researchers noted that their animal experiments supported the results obtained by tissue culture studies carried out in another laboratory. Their animal experiments also apparently confirmed previous clinical observations of the inability of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to slow or halt joint destruction.

The results of these experiments suggest that up to 80 mice were used, all to prove what was already known from studies on people. Certainly species differences render the results clinically invalid, as evidenced in particular by dexamethasone, one of the drugs tested. A researcher at Glaxo at Ware pointed out: “dexamethasone is approximately 30-fold less potent as an anti-inflammatory agent in the guinea-pig than in the rat."

In a later experiment, the results of treatment with heparin and/or the steroid cortisone were studied. Citing earlier experiments which had shown the steroid dexamethasone to protect cartilage from degradation when implanted into the rat, the researchers found no such protection with cortisone in the mouse. They decided that: “The differences observed with the steroid could be attributed to differences in the species used."

Clearly research which is invariably confused by species differences can only be carried out in people. But in this particular instance, there appears to be no apparent purpose at all. According to the British National Formulary, cortisone is no longer used to treat arthritis in people.

Both time and money are wasted on trying to create an animal ‘model’ of human disease when studies on people are revealing that there are many and varied factors involved in arthritis in people, including certain foods, genetic, and environmental factors.

  • Multiple sclerosis research was funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In an experiment, some animals were killed by ether overdose and their spinal cords removed. These were prepared into a mixture which was then injected into the skin at the base of the tails of seven groups of six rats. The effects of a range of drugs on the developing experimental disease EAE (experimental allergic encephalomyelitis) were studied. EAE is an attempt to reproduce the brain inflammation occuring in multiple sclerosis artificially by repeated injection into animals. The researchers’ description of EAE describes paralysis and implies at least some degree of suffering. Our video footage shows conscious and crippled animals suffering from EAE.

  • During radiation testing, mice had their backs shaved and then burnt through exposure to radiation - freshly inflicted wounds were sore and bright red. Some rats in another experiment received frequent doses of radiation (possibly daily). They soon became extremely poorly with radiation sickness and developed weeping, sore eyes which become encrusted with a dark-coloured discharge. Additionally, the animals became very thin and lethargic, hobbling around their cage, and their fur stood on end, which is a typical sign of very poor health. One particular rat appeared to be suffering dreadfully.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this investigation is that this catalogue of abuse and suffering is supposed to be the vivisection industry at its best: the research at St Bart’s is just the sort of work held up by vivisectors as producing vital medical breakthroughs every time they have to defend their trade.

The government considers the 1986 Act a tough piece of legislation, imposing strict controls on animal experiments; whereas in reality the law in this country is a farce, and the only ones it protects are the vivisectors. The general public is constantly reassured that “animals are not allowed to suffer in British laboratories", yet not a single day of this investigation went by without our Field Officers witnessing animals in great distress.

Few if any academic qualifications are required for trainee animal technicians. Thus many have difficulty understanding their duties as laid down by the 1986 Act.

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