Animal experimentation can be a very polarising issue, but here are 5 simple reasons that illustrate it is NOT the way forward for medical progress.
- Humans differ to other animals in their anatomy, genetics and metabolism, meaning that data obtained from animal experiments cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy. For example, intricate differences in the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of chemicals between different species make animals inappropriate models to predict human outcomes. In fact, more than nine out of ten drugs “proven successful” in animals go on to fail in human clinical trials. This not only questions the efficacy and very base argument for using animals, but critically raises the question about all the drugs that failed in animals which might have worked in humans. How many discarded cures for cancer?
- A systematic review is an in-depth assessment of numerous scientific studies into how a particular medical condition responds to a treatment. Systematic reviews conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals. This means that by continuing with animal experiments we are wasting precious resources which would be better used on methodologies that are human-relevant – eg organ-on-a-chip technologies.
- Like humans, other animals have an interest in living. Confining them to a laboratory environment and subjecting them to painful procedures is a breach of trust. Even in cases where there is little (or no) pain involved, animals may be traumatised by noises in the lab, light/dark cycles, odours, confinement and social isolation. It is therefore unethical to use animals in such a way for our perceived benefit.
- Despite claims that lab animals are protected through strict regulation, the system is self-regulated. Decisions are left to the institutional animal ethics committees which gives the public a false reassurance that animals are protected. Humane Research Australia has provided examples where this is clearly not the case.
- There are many people in our society living with chronic disease and terminal illness who are hanging their hopes on a miracle cure. The media often announces “breakthroughs” in medical research, but more often than not they are results based on animal experiments with the expectation that it will then go to clinical trials. These claims merely give false hope to those living with these conditions. We therefore owe it to them to replace antiquated animal experiments with human-relevant research – technologies and methodologies that are more likely to result in positive medical outcomes.
See 5 easy ways to help end animal experiments to see what you can do.