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New guidelines show chimps are rarely needed for medical research

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Some in the industry, however, see it another way. John VandeBerg, scientific director of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, told the AP that he believes the new guidelines will have little or no impact on his facility, which runs one of the four large active chimp research programs in the country. Answers about which chimps will be released and when are vague, and the report leaves some potential loopholes.

The Institute of Medicine report specifies a couple of areas of research in which it believes the use of chimps can continue: "comparative genomics, normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, emotion, or cognition." But even within these areas, there are other scientific methods – not involving animals – that have proven to be as effective or even more effective than using chimps.

Behavioral and cognitive research: use of pediatric imaging 

Behavioral and cognitive research is one of the key areas specified by the report as potentially necessary for continued chimp research. NEAVS has cited numerous studies that use pediatric imaging – and no chimpanzees – which have made advancements in understanding brain development, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders, social reintegration after traumatic brain injury, and other brain-related topics.

According to NEAVS, which itself has a body of published scientific work, researchers can also rely exclusively on human imaging for studying source and spatial memory; cognition/brain activity; attention, perception, vision; pain, hearing, sensation; brain structure and architecture; drug effects on the brain; and other areas.

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