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Porton Down

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2006, Official Report, column 41W, on Porton Down, why the number of (a) mice used in procedures has increased since 2000 and (b) non-human primates used in procedures has increased since 2003; and if he will make a statement. (95716)

The increase in the numbers of procedures involving both mice and non-human primates is directly related to the size and maturity of the on-going medical countermeasures research programme. Mice are used mainly in studies to identify and assess candidate pre-treatments and therapies against biological warfare agents.

Non-human primates are involved in studies to develop advanced animal models for efficacy assessment of post exposure therapies for biological and chemical warfare agents, and studies to assess the visual effects resulting from exposure to very low levels of nerve agents.

Recent products from the Defence research programme include a therapy to treat those suffering from botulism. This is now available to treat UK servicemen, should botulinum toxin ever be used as a weapon against them, and has already been used to treat patients in both UK and Thailand who were subject to naturally occurring cases.