On October 10th, 2004, the American film star Christopher Reeve died at the age of 52 due to complications from his paralysis.

After his horseback riding accident in 1995, Reeve became a leading advocate of animal experimentation and founded the "Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation" in order to promote and finance first and foremost animal experiments for the research of spinal cord injury. In 1996 the first "Christopher Reeve Research Medal" was awarded to the Zurich animal experimenter Martin Schwab. Reeve claimed repeatedly that thanks to animal experiments, he would be able to walk again by the time of his 50th birthday.

Following his death, the usual uncritical reports appeared in the media claiming that during the last several years "enormous progress" has been made in the research of paraplegia – thanks above all to the efforts of Reeve. Because of his death and the resulting wave of sympathy, animal experimentation in this field will undoubtedly be further intensified. The fact remains, however, that the fixation on invalid, unreliable animal experiments guarantees that paraplegia remains incurable (see The myth of animal experimentation: Curing paraplegia).

We need a new generation of researchers who renounce animal experiments and focus on a truly human-based medicine. In order to achieve real progress in alleviating and curing paraplegia, researchers must use valid, reliable methods which are of direct relevance to people. The brochure A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation informs in detail about such methods (see in particular pp. 11-15).

Christopher Anderegg, M.D., Ph.D.