Chimpanzee Genome
chimpanzees to deal more effectively with
the main task of future studies to deter-
mine the exact elements of the virus–host
relationship in chimpanzees that account
for this better virus control.
In conclusion, although chimpanzees
are not suited as experimental model
organisms, there appears to be sufFcient
reason for the comparison of humans
and chimpanzees to become a major Feld
in biomedical research. However, one
should be aware that the insights from
past biomedical studies in chimpanzees
have not met the high initial expectations.
The risk remains that the biomedical
relevance of genetic differences between
humans and chimpanzees is too difFcult
to interpret just by observatory studies. As
a consequence, a substantially increased
experimental effort might be required
whose realization ultimately depends on
the establishment of new experimental
systems that replace chimpanzees as a
model organism. Such systems should
combine a maximum of the advantages
provided by chimpanzees as a model
organism with a minimum of its practical
and ethical concerns.
Ethical Considerations
Chimpanzees, like all other great apes,
are an endangered species that, due to hu-
man interaction, face the extinction of their
wild populations. ±rom this perspective, it
seems somewhat odd to discuss their use
for experimental research beneFcial pri-
marily to humans. However, chimpanzees
breed well in captivity, which insures that
enough animals are available for research
without affecting the wild populations.
In addition, it can be argued that ev-
ery study, even those with fatal outcome
for the participating individual, eventually
beneFts chimpanzees as a species. ±or ex-
ample, vaccines and drugs to cure human
diseases developed on the basis of exper-
imental research on chimpanzees will be
effective also in chimpanzees. A scenario
can be imagined where these pharma-
ceuticals help save a wild chimpanzee
population whose survival is endangered
by such a disease. In combination, both
arguments would, presumably, be sufF-
cient for a well-controlled use of almost
any other species – even one that faces
its extinction – as an experimental animal.
However, the situation is more complex
for chimpanzees. An increasing number
of comparative studies reveal that there
is no clear-cut qualitative difference dis-
tinguishing humans from chimpanzees
in a number of areas that have initially
been regarded as ‘‘speciFc to humans.’’
Many points of similarities exist in cogni-
tion and psychology between chimpanzees
and humans. ±or example, it was re-
peatedly suggested that chimpanzees can
understand and use rudimentary forms of
language – even though they cannot speak
due to anatomical limitations – and there
is certainly tool usage in chimpanzees. In
addition, only recently, it was appreciated
that chimpanzees have cultural traditions
similar to humans. Given these insights
and given the high genetic similarity be-
tween humans and chimpanzees, it might
be worthwhile to reconsider the clear-cut
distinction in ‘‘human being’’ and ‘‘ani-
mal’’. The resulting implications for the
use of chimpanzees in research are ob-
vious and well recognized. In brief, only
such studies should be done with chim-
who are considered not to be able to
provide informed consent. As a legal con-
sequence, the government of New Zealand
has extended three basic human rights
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