ANIMAL rights campaigners have criticised cocaine experiments on mice at the University of Sussex.

Animal Justice Project, a pressure group that campaigns against vivisection, has revealed the university used mice in cocaine experiments between 2012 and 2014.

In an experiment last year, 62 mice, some of which were genetically modified, were trained to press a lever in order to obtain a milk reward. The animals then underwent surgery to have catheters implanted into their jugular veins and, each time they pressed the lever, were dosed with cocaine. The animals received up to 20 doses per session, with up to ten sessions a day.

In another 2014 experiment to study addiction, mice had a cannula implanted into their brains and were subjected to conditional experiments for ten days. The animals were killed by undisclosed methods and researchers removed their brains.

Claire Palmer, of Animal Justice Project, said: “Animal Justice Project demands an end to the cruel cocaine and alcohol experiments on animals taking place at University of Sussex. These types of weird and futile experiments have been going on for years now inside universities, causing immense suffering and death for the animals involved, and have no tangible benefits to humans.

“Researchers carry out these experiments to secure funding grants and further personal careers, yet non-animal studies are by far the most accurate way of investigating the effects of recreational drug use in humans.”

The University of Sussex said it uses non-animal methods as much as possible for its research - but some questions can only be answered by studying living animals.

A spokesman said: “Research into drug addiction plays an important part in the alleviation of human suffering, as does other vital research at the University of Sussex into diabetes, cancer, muscle disease, deafness and obesity.

“Testing on animals is strictly limited, carried out in carefully controlled conditions, and approved and monitored by the Home Office.

"The University also has an ethical policy that sets out the procedures to be followed in any research involving animals, and an ethics committee to oversee this. These are based on recommended procedures of the Home Office and have been approved by the Home Office. 

"The UK law governing this research is widely regarded as the strictest in the world and ensures that animal research is conducted as humanely as possible.”