A NEAVS paper published in August adds: "Most (behavioral researchers) believe that more funding for intervention programs, qualitative clinical research, etc., using human subjects in noninvasive research and research that might in situ benefit them, is the direction behavioral research must go."
The committee that released the report last week recognized that chimps have not proved useful in HIV research, which for a long time was one of the primary areas of chimpanzee use. Opponents of chimp research – and animal testing generally – believe that someday there will be a general understanding that the same can be said for other areas of research.
"It took far too long for a consensus to be reached that chimps were not useful in HIV/AIDS research. All the while, chimps were suffering in labs and precious research dollars were being wasted, while people were waiting for progress," said Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., a geneticist and science director for NEAVS. The organization has made the point that the longer researchers wait to find and implement alternative models, the longer it will take to establish progress in research that will improve human health in a significant way. Continuing to use a model that has limited potential is to handicap the research these animals have been suffering for in the first place.
Hepatitis C is another area that the IOM committee did not come down firmly against. Aside from humans, chimps are the only species that can be infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) – but infected chimps do not develop cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer the way humans do. The report says that chimpanzees are not necessary for the development of antiviral drugs for the treatment of HCV, or for therapeutic vaccines for already-infected people, but reached no definitive conclusion on the development of a prophylactic vaccine.