Anthrax research stopped over euthanasia

Nov. 30, 2009 at 5:14 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Oklahoma State University administrators stopped a pending program testing anthrax vaccines on baboons because the animals would be euthanized, officials say.

The bioterrorism research was to be carried out in a multimillion dollar lab at the university set up specifically for that purpose, the Oklahoman reported Monday.

An internal faculty committee spent a year designing procedure for the use and care of the baboons. University President Burns Hargis sent an e-mail to veterinary medicine researchers saying he would not allow the National Institutes of Health-funded project, the newspaper said.

"This research was not in the best interest of the university. The testing of lethal pathogens on primates would be a new area for OSU that is controversial and is outside our current research programs" said OSU spokesman Gary Shutt.

Veterinarian Michael Davis said using the primates for research is important because they are biologically similar to humans. But after they've been exposed to the anthrax bacterium they must be euthanized so as not to infect others, the Oklahoman said.

"We don't want to, but by the same token we don't want people to be killed by anthrax," Davis said. "Right now, this is the only way and the best way we have of preventing someone from getting killed by anthrax."

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