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Uni defends greyhound transplant research

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016 Helen Velissaris

Monash University has defended a heart transplant study that killed greyhounds, saying the study is valuable for Australians facing life-saving surgery.

The study cut off oxygen to the greyhounds, removed the hearts for temporary preserving before they were transplanted into another dog.

The animal rights group Humane Research Australia (HRA) has criticised the study that aimed to see whether the heart donor pool could be increased with donation after circulatory death.

The joint study by the university and the Alfred Hospital was critically important and the animals were not in any pain, Monash University says in a statement .

"The research was approved by an independent ethics committee at The Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct with representatives from animal welfare organisations on strict conditions: any discomfort to the animals would be absolutely minimal, there were no other existing research alternatives, and that the research was critically important," Monash University said on Monday.

'At no time were the animals subject to pain, they were under deep anaesthetic and unconscious for the entire procedure."

HRA has questioned the relevance of using canine hearts for research on human heart transplants.

"The researchers themselves have previously conducted human studies, so it is extremely difficult to comprehend why they would conduct studies utilising hearts of a completely different species, and why the project proposal was approved by the (Alfred's) animal ethics committee," HRA says in its case study report.

Monash University says the research has contributed to heart transplant knowledge.

"Monash understands that the outcomes of this research will have a valuable influence on the 100 Australians - and thousands of people in the world - facing life-saving surgery," a spokesman said.

Monash University says it has not used dogs in medical research for over 12 months.

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