Report at a Glance
IOM Report Recommends Stringent Limits on Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research
Given that chimpanzees are so closely related to humans and share similar behavioral traits, the National Institutes of Health should allow their use as subjects in biomedical research only under stringent conditions, including the absence of any other suitable model and inability to ethically perform the research on people, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. In addition, use of these animals should be permissible only if forgoing their use will prevent or significantly hinder advances necessary to prevent or treat life-threatening or debilitating conditions, said the committee that wrote the report. Based on these criteria, chimpanzees are not necessary for most biomedical research.
NIH also should limit the use of chimpanzees in behavioral research to studies that provide otherwise unattainable insights into normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, emotion, or cognition, the report says. NIH should require these studies to be performed only on acquiescent animals using techniques that are minimally invasive and are applied in a manner that minimizes pain and distress. Animals used in either biomedical or behavioral studies must be maintained in appropriate physical and social environments or in natural habitats, the report adds.