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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Animal rights activists protest against UA College of Medicine studies using mice

Armed with picket signs and megaphones, a group of animal rights activists gathered outside of the UA College of Medicine’s Phoenix campus on July 24 to protest the opening of a research lab.

The lab, located at the Phoenix Biomedical campus in downtown Phoenix, will be using mice and rats in its experiments.

“We’re a group of individuals working toward the end of exploitation of animals in every sense,” said Kelsey Mosher, a member of the Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad who studied kinesiology at Arizona State University. “It’s wrong to submit an individual, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or species, to an experiment without their consent.”

Scheduled to open this fall, the lab will perform research experiments that involve the “manipulation of the genetic makeup of these animals to find out what certain genes do and to treat genetic diseases,” said Susan Wilson-Sanders, associate director of University Animal Care at the University of Arizona. She added that such research is done to find the causes, preventions and cures for diseases from Valley Fever to cancer.

Mice used in this type of research are often “transgenic,” meaning that a human gene has been inserted into its genetic code to study the function of the gene.

Transgenic mice are useful in medical research because mice are genetically similar to humans, explained Hong Zeng, senior scientist at the Transgenic, Knockout and Tumor Model Center at the Stanford University College of Medicine.

Although the human genome is obviously not identical to that of mice, Zeng said that “most genes have a high homology between humans and mice.”

Wilson-Sanders said that she is committed to reducing the pain and distress of the animals at the research facility.

But due to the nature of many of the experiments, Mosher said she believes that the animals are forced to endure “painful, immoral things.”

“Can you imagine being born without something like a dopamine receptor because they’re transgenically modifying you?” she said. “You will live a life of suffering and then you will die.”

Along with their concern for the animals’ well-being, human health considerations also play into PALS opposition of the lab, Mosher said.

The lab will be a biohazard in that scientists will inject mice with infectious organisms like Salmonella or Hepatitis A before transporting them to other labs throughout Phoenix, she said. However, Wilson-Sanders said that while one room of the lab will be designated to handle certain infectious materials, “none of those organisms are going to be used in that facility.”

Genetically modified animals would generally not be transported from Phoenix Medical Campus to any other facilities, she added.

Whether or not the facility presents a health hazard to human beings, Mosher said PALS plans on organizing future protests to get their message across. She said alternative forms of research could and should replace animal testing.

Mosher said she would ask the lab to refocus their research on more beneficial science, “because what they’re doing is not progressing science, and it’s not helping humans.”

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