A North East university has come under fire from an animal rights group who have called for it to be stripped of public funding.
The Anti-Vivisection Coalition (AVC), which is involved in the protection of primates used in experiments, has this week launched a campaign to revoke the subsidising of primate tests at Newcastle University.
The AVC allege macaques, which are being used in ongoing tests into shakes and tremors at the Institute of Neuroscience, are not being treated humanely.
However, Newcastle University has defended the work, which it says could help around one million people in the UK who suffer from shakes and tremors.
Luke Steele, head of AVC, said: “AVC are delivering a strong message to the British Government – withdraw the funding from these vicious primate experiments.
“However, the responsibility also lies with Newcastle to listen to public opinion, halt the macaque testing and release all monkeys for retirement.”
A spokeswoman for Newcastle University said the ongoing work being undertaken has been ethically-approved.
She said: “This work in primates could help around one million people in the UK who suffer from shakes and tremors as it has enabled Newcastle University scientists to discover a mechanism in the spine which means they are a step closer to treating these shakes and transforming lives.
“The mechanism works to counteract the brain waves which produce tremor, making significant progress towards a treatment and this ground-breaking work could not have been done without the use of animals.
“Mild tremor is a feature of daily life in healthy individuals – we have all experienced it, especially when nervous, tired or hungry.
“But more severe tremors are a symptom of nervous diseases, such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and essential tremor.
“Essential tremor is common in old age, but younger people can also be affected, and currently in severe cases it can leave patients unable to walk unaided.
“This work was ethically approved and funded by the Wellcome Trust.”
The AVC campaign comes just a matter of weeks after the university halted experiments on baboons caught in the wild in Kenya following an undercover investigation.
Experiments on baboons caught in the wild are banned in the UK but the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) revealed that Newcastle University scientists were operating on baboons in Africa to find treatments for stroke patients.
The university swiftly responded and said it would be stopping the research in Kenya. A statement released in late December said: “A stroke research project started prior to the publication of the latest guidance ‘Responsibility in the use of animals in Bioscience Research’ in April 2013.
“While the guidance has been developed and applies to the external funders of animal research and not to individual universities, Newcastle University has taken the decision to review our own policies and bring them in line with our external funding partners.”
AVC will hold the first of many protests in the campaign on Friday, January 24, demonstrating outside Government offices who designate money for monkey experiments.