The Research and Ethics Office
The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Locked Bag 8
East Melbourne VIC 8002.
Cc: Professor Anne Kelso
National Health and Medical Research Council
GPO Box 1421
Canberra ACT 2601
Cc: Professor Aidan Byrne
Australian Research Council
GPO Box 2702
Canberra ACT 2601
Sir, Madam, Professor:
The experiment from 2015 aimed to test four different cochlea implant stimulation methods on kittens with artificially induced chronic deafness.
They aimed to discover which provides the highest clarity with the lowest electrical current, as well as the effect of different positions of the implant on its performance.
Six kittens underwent an experimental deafness procedure, which involved daily injections of neomycin sulphate, an antibiotic that has hearing loss side effects. These injections commenced the day after birth and continued for 20 days. Injections were continued if necessary until the kittens registered as profoundly deaf. Kittens were deaf for a period of 10-12 months before the experiment commenced.
The experiment was conducted over 2-3 days where the cats were anaesthetised, intubated, and kept unconscious throughout. The cochlea implants were surgically inserted after which the cats were placed in a restrictive metal frame called a stereotaxic frame, which positions their head with metal rods in the ears and a metal clamp on the nose.
A craniotomy, which is invasive brain surgery, was performed on the cats where a segment of their skill was removed followed by removal of the cerebral cortex, so that the section of brain associated with auditory processing could be exposed.
Different currents were then used to stimulate the electrodes in the implants to determine the effectiveness and clarity of the different models. Brain activity of the auditory processing region was also monitored through a silicon-recording device that was implanted during the craniotomy.
After data was collected for the cochlea implants, the cats were killed and the implants removed for analysis.
As well as the question of the research being relevant to human medicine, the sheer number of cats subjected to these invasive experimental procedures from one day of age is quite shocking, and only seems to be increasing over the years. With such similar experiments being conducted each year, the institute appears to be abusing their use of cats in a wasteful manner. With such similar experimental methods in place for all the studies there is the question of what new information is being obtained with each new experiment that could not be deduced from any of the previous studies?
Continually and persistently deafening and killing cats and receiving large amounts of tax-payer funding to do so is something that needs to be addressed.
Please stop these cruel unethical experiments!