PETA to NIMH: Your Own Study Says Animal Tests Fail—Stop Funding Them!

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Update: August 27, 2019

A groundbreaking new NIMH-funded study published in the leading scientific journal Nature should sound the death knell for the use of mice in cruel depression experiments.

In the study, 64 researchers analyzed the brains of mice and humans and found substantial species differences in types of brain cells and the ways they produce proteins critical to neuropsychiatric function. The authors noted numerous “failures in the use of [the] mouse for preclinical studies” because of “so many [species] differences in the cellular patterning of genes.”

Specifically, proteins that affect neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, glutamate, and GABA) are not produced by the same cells in mice and humans. This means that the brain cells that communicate with each other—and the brain cells that respond to drugs meant to treat depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder—are drastically different between mice and humans. It is therefore hardly surprising that NIMH depression experiments on mice (and indeed, other animals)—such as the forced swim test, the tail suspension test, and the electroshock test—do not even come close to reflecting human depression with any accuracy­, nor that 95% of drugs that test safe and effective in animals end up failing in human clinical trials.

Take action below: Tell NIMH that it must act on the results of this landmark study and stop wasting tax dollars on these cruel and useless animal tests.

Update: August 9, 2019

PETA (and anyone with common sense) can see that testing drugs by forcing mice and other small animals to swim for their life or by hanging them upside down by their tail is scientifically worthless and doesn’t benefit the health and well-being of humans.

And now, apparently, even National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director Joshua A. Gordon understands this.

In response to PETA’s pressure on NIMH to drop the forced swim test and other experiments on mice, Gordon told the prestigious scientific journal Nature, “The National Institute of Mental Health has for some time been discouraging the use of certain behavioral assays, including the forced swim and tail suspension test, as models of depression.” He added, “[T]hese tests in particular are recognized by many scientists as lacking sufficient mechanistic specificity to be of general use in clarifying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying human depression.”

So why on Earth would the institute continue to use our tax dollars to fund these cruel, senseless tests?

These tests create intense fear, anxiety, and terror in small animals and have no bearing on the human experience. But many experimenters admit that they feel compelled to use them in order to receive grants and publish papers, despite knowing how useless they are. Gordon and NIMH must take a stand and support only non-animal testing. The scientific community and the patients desperate for treatments would be far better off.

Originally published July 18, 2019:

PETA is calling on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to pull the plug on a set of cruel and scientifically worthless psychological tests on animals carried out and funded by the agency with our tax dollars. PETA’s appeal to end indefensible experiments that terrorize animals follows the release of video footage of an NIMH-funded “social defeat experiment.”

In the “social defeat experiment,” a small mouse is put inside a cage with an aggressive, dominant one and is attacked repeatedly by the larger mouse. The experimenters do this in order to produce psychological stress and depression in the attacked animal, even though experiments based on this “model” give us insights into the biological mechanisms at work only in mice—not humans—when they’re bullied.

In the video released by PETA, experimenters locked a small mouse inside a cage to be attacked by an aggressive, dominant mouse—producing psychological stress and depression in the assaulted animal.

PETA has determined that NIMH Director Joshua A. Gordon has personally conducted this bizarre, senseless experiment. In his version of it, male mouse urine was rubbed onto young female mice’s vaginas and tails. The females were then placed into cages with larger, aggressive male mice so that they would be assaulted.

Gordon’s atrocities don’t stop there. He’s also conducted three other horrific types of experiments on animals:

  • The widely discredited forced swim (or “despair”) test, in which mice, rats, or other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and must swim frantically to keep from drowning
  • The tail suspension test, in which experimenters tape a mouse’s tail to a bar and hang the animal upside down
  • The foot shock test, in which experimenters lock mice or rats inside a chamber with an electrified grid floor and repeatedly shock them

All these experiments are useless to humans.

How do we know? Well, let’s put this in a way even Gordon should understand—as it turns out, humans aren’t mice trapped in cages or beakers of water.

This “mouse” and PETA supporters were joined by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health to urge the agency to stop conducting cruel, useless, and wasteful depression tests on mice and other animals.

Nothing about these tests “models” complex human neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and stress. Reliance on these irrelevant tests is consistently cited as a leading reason why so many neurobehavioral drugs fail in human clinical trials. Has any doctor ever told a patient that they could alleviate their depression by avoiding electrically charged floors or being hung upside down? Come on.

We Can End These Tests Now, but We Need Your Help

Using our form below, please demand that the NIMH stop conducting and supporting these useless tests on small animals and redirect funds to support advanced, animal-free research methods that offer the hope of actually helping human patients.

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