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Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Midlands Reporter of the Year EXCLUSIVE

ALMOST 55,000 animals were used for research in just 12 months at Birmingham University, new figures reveal.

In 2016, 52,455 mice were used at the university's labs, as well as 1,385 rats, 798 fish and 90 frogs and newts.

That is more than a 7,000 increase on the previous year. According to pressure group Animal Justice Project, which last night staged a demonstration in Birmingham about the university's use of lab animals, those experiments included: ? Mice being injected with toxins to induce chronic liver injury; ? Rodents dosed with bioluminescent chemicals, causing them to glow; ? Tetanus toxins injected directly into rats' brains.

Last night, Animal Justice Project staged a "Light Brigade" protest, with the words "54,728 animals killed by UOB (University of Birmingham)" illuminated over a city centre canal bridge.

They also demanded a debate on the issue.

The project's science adviser, Dr Andre Menache, said: "Given what we know today about the differences between mice and men, to continue stubbornly to waste public money and animal lives is tantamount to scientific fraud.

"It's time to stop experimenting on animals and, instead, switch to evidencebased, human-relevant research at Birmingham University."

A lab tests table, published by the university, reveals a steep increase in the use of animals.

In 2007, 36,467 mice were experimented on.

Within five years, that figure had risen by another 10,000. By 2016, it had risen by 16,000.

Claire Palmer, Animal Justice Project spokesman, said: "Veganism has risen by over 360 per cent over the past decade, and society is showing its distaste for animal abuse.

"This invariably includes animal experimentation.

"This is demonstrated by the findings of a 2016 Ipsos Mori poll that 74 per cent of the public want more work to find alternatives to animal research, and public support for an outright ban on animal tests has increased.

"Birmingham University is failing to move with the times by increasing its rodent work and failing to understand that animals - even mice - can no longer be used as 'tools' by its researchers without scrutiny".

It is not the first time Birmingham University's animal tests have been placed under the spotlight.

Three years ago, the Sunday Mercury exclusively revealed that rats were being deliberately blinded by having plastic balls fired at them.

The tests were designed to advance treatment for servicemen and women blinded by shrapnel.

University leaders admitted the procedure took place, but said it was vital for the treatment of humans who suffer eye injuries.

Of those experiments, the university stated: "The University of Birmingham is involved in research to develop drugs and medical technologies that will help in the fight against life-threatening and debilitating diseases, and improve healthcare for patients.

"Some diseases and health problems involve processes that can only be studied in a living organism.

"For example, treatments for heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer have all been developed by involving animals in testing and research.

"The University will always ensure that any animals used are humanely treated."


? Protest group Animal Justice Project has criticised the use of live animals in experiments at the University of Birmingham (right)
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2018
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