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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 08:57 GMT
Students oppose animal test plans
Students at a university campus in Kent have expressed concern over plans for a pharmaceutical research laboratory which could include animal testing.

The development has been confirmed at the Medway School of Pharmacy, run by the universities of Greenwich and Kent.

A group of environmental science students e-mailed BBC South East saying they were "completely against" the plans, and feared a security risk.

The universities said they would take steps to "ensure safety and security".

It said the laboratory would be a "small-scale operation".

Rats and mice

A statement added that research would be carried out "towards the development of new treatments for cancer, asthma, and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and depression".

"These studies primarily involve experimentation using cell cultures and computer modelling.

"However, on the rare occasion when there are no alternative experimental systems available, this work may involve small numbers of rodents such as rats and mice."

As well as the students' objections to the laboratory, an animal charity based in Tonbridge, Kent, has questioned the use of rodents for testing.

Andre Menache, a veterinary surgeon and scientific consultant to Animal Aid, said: "Rats and mice don't suffer from human depression and Alzehimer's. Animal cancers are very different from human cancers.

"I think we should stop wasting money causing a lot of animal suffering, and start looking at using 21st Century modern technology, such as MRI scanning which is non-invasive, and of course using donated human tissues."

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