Concerns over the value of animal experiments

Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans? (BMJ Vol 328)

Much animal research into potential human treatments is wasted because it is poorly conducted and not thoroughly evaluated, argue leading doctors in this week’s BMJ.
They call for urgent, formal reviews of existing animal research.

They identified six comprehensive reviews of animal experiments from the scientific literature. All six highlighted deficiencies in the contribution that animal research makes to clinical medicine, such as poor design and animal and clinical trials being conducted simultaneously.

If animal experiments fail to inform medical research, or if the quality of the experiments is so poor as to render the findings inconclusive, then the research will have been conducted unnecessarily.

The scientists call for a programme of research to review existing animal data, to find out whether the animal research can be applied to humans.

Professor Ian Roberts, one of the authors of the report said, “We are only asking that the same standards as are applied in human research are applied to animal research. We would not tolerate haphazard potentially biased reviews of human research so why should we tolerate this for animal research? New research, whether in animals or humans, should only be carried out after a proper systematic review of the existing research.

What’s more, comparing results from systematic reviews of animal and human research will allow us to assess the contribution of animal research to improving human health.”

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Emma Dickinson EurekAlert!

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