Ill Italian condemns abuse over animal experiments defence

Nude mice in research lab Several million animal experiments are carried out each year

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An Italian student suffering from a rare disease has denounced death threats she received after defending medical experiments on animals.

Caterina Simonsen said more than 30 "death wishes" and 500 abusive messages were sent to on her Facebook page.

The messages came after she uploaded a photo of herself with a message: "I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals."

In response to the abuse, she has posted videos of her condition online.

Caterina Simonsen, 25, lives in Padua and studies veterinary medicine at Bologna University.

She says she suffers from four rare genetic disorders and cannot breathe unaided.

"Without research, I would have been dead at nine," she said in her initial message on 21 December. "You have gifted me a future."

But a torrent of comments followed - some suggesting the world would be better off with her dead.

She has forwarded the details to the Italian authorities.

Animal research has always been controversial.

Many people strongly oppose the use of any animals in experiments arguing it is cruel and unethical.

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