Extract from the Daily Express, 28 September 2000, by Lucy Johnston and Jonathan Calvert

ONE OF BRITAIN's most high-profile animal experimentation projects has been shut down following revelations in the Daily Express.

The UK-based company Imutran - a world leader in research aimed at adapting pig organs for human transplant - announced yesterday it was moving its operation to America.

Last week the Daily Express published secret details revealing the reality behind the company's xenotransplantation research on monkeys (see Terrible despair of animals cut up in the name of research).

The documents showed that Imutran had exaggerated the success of its work at Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, and that the experiments involved horrific suffering. Our findings shocked animal rights campaigners, MPs and scientists, and led to calls for the research to be banned.

Imutran's parent company Novartis is collaborating its research with the US-based company BioTransplant, which has been using different scientific techniques. Paul Herrling, head of global research at Novartis, said: "From a scientific and business perspective, this move makes sense for both companies and provides a great opportunity to maximise our complementary technologies."

But last night animal rights groups claimed this move was evidence that the company has failed in its attempts to overcome the problem of organ rejection.

Dan Lyons, director of Uncaged and author of the Diaries of Despair report based on the confidential documents, said: "Imutran's closure in the UK vindicates the points the Express made in their article and we made in our report. It is a shame so many animals have had to suffer for so long and been destroyed in this pointless and cruel research programme. We are demanding an urgent independent Government inquiry into how this research could have gone ahead in the first place."

The documents uncovered by the Express showed that the xenotransplantation work was one of the most extreme programmes of animal experimentation to take place in the UK this decade. It involved transplanting genetically modified pigs' hearts and kidneys into monkeys. Thousands of pigs, 424 cynomolgus monkeys and 49 wild-caught baboons were used.

Over the past five years Imutran claimed to have been close to solving the crucial issue of "organ rejection" which has so far prevented trials on humans. But the Daily Express found that scientific papers declaring new breakthroughs were misleading. In one paper, it is claimed that no baboons died from "hyperacute" reaction - when two excluded from the published study did.

A second study described a baboon which survived for 39 days with a life-supporting pig heart as healthy throughout. But records showed it was clearly suffering in the last days of its life. The heart had grown in weight by three times, a fact not mentioned in the published data.

Animal protection groups have demanded urgent action into the Daily Express findings. Dr Maggy Jennings, head of the RSPCA's research animals department, said the group was examining copies of the documentation. "This incident highlights the need for more openness regarding the use of animals in biomedical research," she said. "If the Express claims are true, we will be calling for immediate Government action." The Home Office is investigating our report and has also obtained copies of the documents.



"One of Britain's most high-profile animal experimentation projects has been shut down."























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