I am writing in response to the article "Animal use criticised by report" (The Argus, February 8). A report by the Sussex University student campaign group Violence-Free Science says that the university is using animals needlessly in experiments. A university spokesman said: "Some of the research does ask questions that can only be answered by studying living animals."

Scientists have a name for oneto- one correspondence between all elements in two or more living systems - isomorphism. Clearly, animals are not isomorphic with humans. With systems as complex as the human body, very small dissimilarities not only negate isomorphism but also have radical implications. Grossly, animals are alike, that is why we are all part of the animal kingdom. We differ on the cellular and molecular level, and, importantly, that is where disease occurs. Extrapolating data from animals to humans is misleading, unnecessary and dangerous.

Though certain animals may fulfil some of the same criteria as humans in some incidences, no animal consistently fulfils all criteria.

This means that animals are not strong models for human disease.

It also means that all data recovered from animal model experiments must be scaled. Scaled is a scientific term that, generally, refers to "the fudge factor".

Humans themselves provide the perfect model.

Clinical observation and experiment has a more supreme value than the doubtful and often misleading practice of animal experimentation. The advances in medical knowledge have not come from animals. When, on rare occasions, advances took place through animal experimentation, they were not incumbent on animals.

Alternative methods, autopsies, in-vitro research, clinical observation, epidemiology, mathematical modelling and other human-based research modalities could have resulted in the same achievements.

  • David Hammond, North Court Hassocks