A gory lab

A gory lab western biomedical scientists working on primates are flocking to China, which lacks stern regulations on animal research. Absence of animal rights groups and low cost of research in the communist nation also encourage them, making many of them even take up full-time positions in various Chinese institutions engaged in primate research. Besides, monkeys cost less than us $1,000 in China, about a tenth of their European price.

Scientists, particularly from the us and the uk, seek collaborations with Chinese primate centres like the Kunming Institute of Zoology in southwestern China, which hosts 1,400 experimental monkeys, including 300 in isolation, according to the November 4, 2004, issue of the journal Nature. Among three us scientists who occupy a full-time position in Kunming is neurophysiologist Fraser Wilson from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, whose experiments in the us were severely criticised by animal rights groups. Wilson wants to track the activity of single neurons in monkeys to understand how they explore large-scale three-dimensional space.

Primates are also entering cardiovascular research. Anthony Chan of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, Georgia is aligning with the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Beijing to create transgenic monkeys for studying atherosclerosis, heart failure and diabetes.

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