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Chemical Weapons: Animals

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2010, Official Report, columns 811-12W, on chemical weapons: animals, what the reasons are for the increase in the number of non-human primate tests between 2008-09; and whether any such tests have been conducted on human beings since 2005. (317541)

The number of procedures conducted on animals depends on the demand from the MOD research programme. The increase in the number of procedures returned by Dstl involving non-human primates in 2009 is due to the maturity of long term projects within the research programme. One of these projects concerns the development of new medical countermeasures which require the development of a non-human primate model of human infection. The model is required for the regulatory approval of new medical countermeasures to a range of bacterial and viral infections which are relevant in both military and civilian environments.

The other factor that contributed to the rise in numbers is another project which followed on from earlier studies conducted in a rodent species. These studies determined a necessity for work in a species closer to man to assess the clinical effects of the inhalation of various chemical materials.

The studies undertaken at Dstl Porton Down with human participants do not involve the use of chemical warfare agents. Studies involving the use of service volunteers since 2005 have included the assessment of candidate prophylactic and therapeutic drugs, and the physiological and psychological impact of wearing various combinations of personal protective clothing, including respirators.