Tell U of Montana: Crushing animals spines is a giant step backwards!

UPDATE: CAARE has learned that the job posting for animal research director at the Neural Injury Center has been removed. We consider this a hopeful sign that the University of Montana is listening to the compassionate public. Please continue to send your polite letters to UM.

The University of Montana in Missoula is planning to expand the use of animals for experiments in head trauma and spinal cord injury at its Neural Injury Center. Tell them that non-animal research is both humane and beneficial, and a true path forward to treating neural injury in people.

Fill in the above form and click to send, or email your letter to scott.whittenburg@umontana.edu, thomas.crady@mso.umt.edu, and david.levison@umontana.edu.

For more than five decades, animals have had been used extensively in experiments intending to treat human spinal cord injury, a devastating trauma that leads to paralysis and loss of function. 

Mice, rats, cats, ferrets, pigs, monkeys and other animals have had their spines crushed, severed, infected, and compressed in experiments that have failed to provide any cure for human patients.

Ignoring these failures, the University of Montana in Missoula (UM) is planning to expand the human-based clinical studies at its Neural Injury Center to include a new facility to conduct spinal cord injury on large animals.

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Send your polite letter to UM officials expressing your opposition to transforming the Neural Injury Center into an animal research facility. 

This will likely mean monkeys, pigs, cats or other animals subjected to painful and invasive spinal cord injuries. This is carried out by surgically exposing the spinal cord and then employing a variety of methods that include dropping weights onto the cord, stretching it with metal rods, dissecting it with a scalpel, or compressing the spinal cord for long periods to induce injury. 


Animals may be kept alive for months to observe healing as they struggle with postoperative complications and devastating effects of paralysis, often without pain relieving medications.

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Dr. Charles Tator, an expert on spinal cord injury wrote in 2006  that: “Despite the availability of several experimental [animal] models that closely simulate the pathophysiology of SCI [spinal cord injury] in humans, most human trials in SCI have failed to reproduce the effectiveness of the trials in animal models.” He conducted an updated review in 2012 confirming the same conclusions.

Yet each year millions of dollars continue to be awarded by government and private foundations to fund these cruel experiments, despite a dismal track record of benefitting people with spinal cord injury.

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Modern technologies using human cells and tissues offer hope to deliver clinically-relevant treatments. 3D cellular models with living nervous tissue have shown success with studying regeneration and healing

Biotech company Axosim has developed a nerve-on-a-chip that can mimic living tissue and demonstrate precise mechanisms of human nerve cell physiology in response to drugs or compounds.

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AnaBios is another biotech company utilizing human-only tissue to generate highly relevant predictive human data. AnaBios uses donated tissues and organs to study the uniquely human responses of functionally relevant tissues, including human spinal cord tissue samples and neuronal cell cultures.

These companies offer their technologies to other scientists and could partner with UM to carry out cutting-edge, human-relevant research on spinal cord and other neural tissue injury.

Send your letter today to UM letting them know that expanding animal research at the Neural Injury Center will be a giant step backwards.

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Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research (CAARE), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established to highlight and promote research without animals.

Your donation helps us carry out our mission to speak up for animals in laboratories, and to end animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.