More than 500 animals have been experimented on by researchers at the University of Brighton over the past two years.

New figures reveal staff used 342 mice in 2010 and a further 178 the following year for studies looking into conditions such as dementia and incontinence.

The University of Sussex refused to reveal the exact number of animals its staff experimented on but confirmed that it was licensed to hold small rodents.

Animal rights activists called the figures “awful” and said the practice of experimenting on animals was “morally wrong”.

The University of Brighton revealed that it carried out two experiments involving animals in 2011.

The first looked into the effects of age on food and water intake including urine and faeces production.

The experiment was part of a larger study looking into age-related incontinence.

The second was to uncover the mechanism of a drug which they say could be potentially useful to treat people with dementia and learning difficulties.

A spokesman said: “The university uses a minimum number of mice to support research into chronic illnesses and to assist in the development of effective treatments for such conditions as dementia and childhood disease.

"All our research is conducted under Home Office guidelines and in certified facilities which provide the highest quality of animal care.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Sussex said staff used non-animal methods wherever possible.

Brighton Animal Action’s Sue Baumgardt said that the figures did not surprise her.

She added: “Not only do I think it’s morally wrong but it’s also scientifically flawed.

“There are other ways to test medicines these days. A lot can be done with micro dosing experiments where a small amount of the drug is tested on humans.

“But medicines also have a different effect depending on your age, gender and race. Just think of the differences between different species. It just doesn’t make sense.”