The experiments carried out at Cambridge University in the UK involved the sheep having implants put into their brains to monitor brain activity while they suffered from symptoms like weight loss, disorientation and eyesight loss until they died or were killed.
The undercover investigation documented incidences of animal abuse by staff - one sheep had to be killed after her leg was broken by a staff member violently forcing her into a 'crush cage' to be weighed.
Another sheep was left suffering in shocking conditions for days after her condition had reached the state where the researchers decided she had to be killed: she was nearly blind, suffering from severe weight loss and left lying in her own faeces.
Serious questions are being asked in the UK about the validity of the experiments and how the licences were granted and if the UK's harm/benefit test was applied correctly. One of the UK researchers had also been previously caught carrying out animal experiments without a licence. This illegal experiment involved giving 200 mice doses of metamphetamine and exposing them to loud music to the point where they suffered seizures and died.
The sheep exported to the UK have been bred in New Zealand to suffer from a condition that only mimics some of the abnormalities seen in people. There are significant differences between sheep and human brains, like there are between mice and sheep brains. Sheep are being used as mice didn't work so now they are tinkering around with sheep in the hope that might work. These experiments on sheep, similar ones of which may have been carried out here at Lincoln and/or Otago Universities where researchers developed this model, will not produce results that can be safely and reliably extrapolated to people. Every day the evidence mounts that animal models do not predict human responses and that for effective treatments it is the actual disease in humans that researchers need to be looking at - not animals with similar symptoms that come from different causes. Five days ago the editorial of the British Medical Journal said exactly this..