[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
18m animal testing centre opens
Mouse in carboard tube, BBC
Mice and humans are genetically very similar, say scientists
A new 18m animal testing centre to examine the genetic make-up of mice and humans has been opened.

The Mary Lyon Centre, at Harwell in Oxfordshire, will house 65,000 mice.

Scientists want to discover how genes contribute to disease and are focusing their research on mice because they are genetically very similar to humans.

One animal rights group described the centre as "a massive step in the wrong direction", claiming the results of animal testing are often misleading.

The Mary Lyon Centre will help ensure that medical research continues to make groundbreaking contributions towards the improvement of public health
Prof Colin Blakemore, MRC
Part of the research will consist of placing new genes in the mice and mutating existing genes to see if the rodents become more resistant to disease.

The biochemical "life codes" of both humans and mice have now been laid bare, and scientists believe that by running genetic tests on rodents they can get closer to understanding the causes of disease in humans - and how to find new treatments.

Professor Steve Brown, director of the Medical Research Council's (MRC) Mammalian Genetics Unit, said: "One of the major challenges for the 21st Century is to determine the function of all genes in the mammalian genome and their role in human disease.

"The Mary Lyon Centre with its state-of-the-art facilities and expertise will make an enormous contribution in achieving this goal."

'Leaps in understanding'

Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the MRC, said: "If it hadn't been for research involving mice, we wouldn't have made such leaps in understanding - the cause of cystic fibrosis and certain types of deafness, the improvements in treatments for depression, the advances in treatments for some cancers, or as much progress in the development of vaccines for tuberculosis and malaria.

"The Mary Lyon Centre will help ensure that medical research continues to make groundbreaking contributions towards the improvement of public health."

But Andrew Butler, from Peta (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) said: "This is a massive step in the wrong direction as any other animal rights group in the UK would agree.

"Animal testing is known to produce wildly misleading and erroneous results.

"What we need in this country is real investment in alternative procedures. We need a dedicated centre to fund, seek out and validate non-animal research."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Christine McGourty
"One of the most sophisticated animal laboratories in the world"



SEE ALSO:
New centre to reduce animal tests
21 May 04  |  Science/Nature
Animal tests see steady decline
23 Apr 04  |  Science/Nature
Primate research lab plans axed
27 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific