A ‘mutilated rabbit’ stood outside the Sheraton Hotel in Back Bay, Boston as part of a protest led by animal welfare group PETA against Charles River Laboratories, sponsor of the inaugural World Congress on Animal Models in Drug Discovery & Development in Boston on Tuesday.
The conference – part of Biotech Week Boston – aimed to discuss the application of traditional and non-traditional animal models, and novel in vitro and ex vivo approaches to disease modelling and drug discovery.
However, the animal welfare group claims researchers should switch to modern, non-animal based methods and accused Charles River of “using this conference to peddle its services.”
PETA chief of Laboratory Case Management Alka Chandna said: “PETA is calling on scientists at the conference to get out of the Dark Ages, admit animal studies don’t work, and commit to using in vitro testing, human organs-on-chips, and other modern research methods.”
Charles River said its work with animal-based models is both essential for discovering and developing drugs and required by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The survival rates for major diseases are at an all-time high thanks to the discovery of new drugs,” the contract research organization (CRO) said in a statement sent to Biopharma-Reporter. “Our work is an essential component of the research that has led to these discoveries and is required by the FDA. Charles River has played a vital role in virtually every medical advance for humans as well as animals.”
The CRO added: “Charles River has a deep commitment to animal welfare and we make every effort to exceed national standards for the care of the research models under our stewardship.”