March 1, 2004
A report published in New Scientist (26 February 2004) states scientists studying human brain tissue may have advanced Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research along a different path from misleading earlier animal studies on which all subsequent research has been based.
The researchers at the University of Sydney studied brain tissue from 300 MS patients and concluded that MS may be due to the death of brain cells that produce the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, and not attacks from the patient's immune system as previously indicated by misleading animal studies.
The New Scientist report backs what animal campaigners such as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) have been saying for many years, stating "Their findings back the view that the reason for the lack of progress in this field is that most MS research is done on mice with a disease that is actually quite different." 1
For many years, MS has been thought to be due to the patient's own immune system attacking the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells. This assumption was largely based on perceived similarities between MS and an artificially induced condition in laboratory animals called Experimental Allergic Encephalitis (EAE).
In November 2002, three neurology experts from Glasgow University and the Leiden University Medical Centre published claims that the traditional animal model of (MS) was so inappropriate that it had actually delayed progress in MS research.2
Nicky Gordon, the BUAV's Scientific Officer, says:
"These new findings based on modern, human research could be the major
breakthrough that MS sufferers and their families have been waiting for
and could lead to new treatments for the disease. We believe it is clear
that decades of cruel animal experiments into MS, particularly the use
of EAE mice, have substantially delayed progress in research into the disease.
The use of animals as crude 'models' for human disease is scientifically
flawed, and there are so many other areas where advances in treatments
for human disease would benefit too if outdated animal experiments were
consigned to the history books."
Differences between EAE and MS
Copyright © 2004, BUAV