Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 21st century chimp: curing the common cold and bringing human fetuses to term

Thinking and writing about chimpanzees living in the 1940s and 50s makes me wonder how much we’ve learned since then. So I’m searching the “shelves” of for old books and reports that can help me understand what the experts believed 50 years ago. The books are starting to arrive and, judging from my skimming tonight, we’ve learned a lot. Still, some of the claims have an eerily familiar ring.
For instance, there are experimental biologists today who declare that bio invasive research MUST continue on chimpanzees, because the future holds such grand potential. I’m enthralled by a 1967 book written by “brilliant primatologist” (it actually says that in two places on the book cover flaps!) Vernon Reynolds. The brilliant Dr. Reynolds was giving the same pitch 43 years ago, and made a promising prophecy that must have given hope to many who read his book.
“There may well be as many apes in research laboratories in America, England, and Russia as there are in captivity in zoos. It is of course inevitable that this should be so. Most of the laboratory apes are chimpanzees… I list a few of the diseases in which research is being helped by apes: malaria, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, common cold, syphilis, whooping cough, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, one of the newest and potentially greatest uses of ape subjects is in the field of organ transplantation. Already chimpanzee kidneys have been used to replace a diseased human kidney, though as yet this technique is in its infancy and has not had any long-term successes. This is a rapidly expanding medical field, however, and it is reasonable prophecy that, by the end of this century, there will be many people alive only by virtue of the chimpanzee kidneys and hearts within their bodies; or people who have regained their sight by the grafting of chimpanzee corneas into their eyes. Chimpanzees may even be used to bring to term an implanted human fetus.” (I added the emphasis.)
It seems they hoped chimpanzee sacrifices would result in medical miracles, from curing the common cold to bringing fetuses to term. No wonder baby boomers are skeptical of today’s claims by modern medical prophets.

According to ChimpCare, there are 991 chimpanzees in U.S. biomedical research laboratories, today.
The Apes, written by Vernon Reynolds, “a brilliant British primatologist,” was published in 1967 by E.P. Dutton & Company.

1 comment:

  1. There is so much hypocrisy concerning this issue of Chimps being used in laboratory experiments.
    Hypothetically, substitute a Human group, for any of these ongoing and proposed biological experiments on Chimps. There would be outrage.
    But, even now, after all the data on chimpanzee intelligence, culture, DNA, etc. are well established, some scientists are feeling justified in putting these primates, so close to being Human, through what would immediately be considered illegal, if performed on humans ?
    Scientists should consider changing the Taxonomy for Chimpanzees- from Pan/ Troglodytes-to Homo/Troglodytes, sharing the human Genus.
    Biologists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit think this should be so.
    Would this compel our Courts with new Laws to change how they view Chimps( and other Apes?)
    Would this give Chimpanzees the legal rights they deserve?