A CHARITY which campaigns against experiments on animals has criticised the use of monkeys by North-East scientists.

Earlier this week scientists at Newcastle University, who were using two monkeys to research spinal cord stimulation, revealed they had restored the ability to grasp with a paralysed hand for the first time.

By connecting the brain of a macaque monkey to a computer and then the computer to the animal’s spinal cord it was possible to restore movement when the animal’s hand was temporarily paralysed by a drug.

The Newcastle scientists believe that this discovery could open up the possibility of new treatments in human which could help stroke victims or those with spinal cord injuries.

The British Union Against Vivisection (BUAV) said the claim was the latest in a long line of celebrated ‘breakthroughs’ in animals – including monkeys – “almost all of which never result in human benefit, due to differences between animals and humans.”

The charity said it was “almost certain to be human clinical research” which will be the crux of any successful development and not “speculative” animal experiments.

The BUAV also claimed that the university had not fully disclosed details of the invasive surgical procedures carried out on the monkeys and their fate after the experiments.

A spokesman from Newcastle University said: "Animal studies are essential for understanding how the body works, what goes wrong, and how it can be treated. Paralysis is no exception.

“Earlier this month, four patients who had been paralysed from the waist down could walk again thanks to epidural electrical stimulation, a technique pioneered and refined in rats before moving on to humans. The physiological similarity of primates makes them an important part of research into human disease.”

The spokesman said full details of the research is available on the Newcastle University website.