US experts urge phase-out of chimpanzee research

THE US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been urged to scale back its use of chimpanzees for medical studies.

An NIH-commissioned working group offered more than two dozen recommendations on how to best ensure primates are used as test subjects only when absolutely necessary. 

The advice is open for public comment for 60 days.

The US is the only industrialised country still using primates – in particular for studies of AIDS, hepatitis C and malaria – but it is now rare. Of the 94,000 NIH-funded projects in 2011, only 53 used primates. In 2011 there were 937 chimpanzees in US research labs.

The EU forbade primate research in 2010, following similar moves by Australia, Japan and other developed countries.