In UK over 3 million procedures using live animals are carried out each year. In USA the annual number is estimated at some 22 million. Biotechnology is at last providing future research alternatives to the use of captured wild and industry bred animals for medical research. Research technology is now proving ever better at predicting the effects of a drug on the human body than on a caged animal.
Humans are not the same as the caged animals used in research. The equivalent human dose of 200mg of ibuprofen can kill a small dog or cat, for example.
Drugs that work really well in animals often do nothing or, even worse, can be very harmful and toxic to humans.
Biotechnology advances, like Organ-on-a-chip, Tissue bioprinting, or advanced computer data-centric Artificial Intelligence (AI), are thankfully reducing live animal testing for economic as well as for ethical
Medical researchers can now replace live animals in some instances for toxicity testing, neuroscience (inflammatory pain), and drug development.
All cancer or other medical treatment drugs must be approved by law for human safety. At present live animal testing on a mouse or rat and one other larger animal, such as dog, pig or monkey, is a regulatory first step to measure the efficacy, toxicity and safety of every new drug treatment before it can be clinically tested on humans. It inevitably causes the animals harm, suffering and pain, and finally death.
Animals used in biomedical research include mice, rats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs and sheep, dogs and cats, monkeys, chimpanzees. Some are purpose-bred on an industrial scale for use in medical experiments. But some are snatched from their wild environment for research use.
Some animals like chimpanzees cannot be kept humanely in laboratory caging, given their highly evolved mental, emotional, and social features, and their vulnerability to suffering from living in caged captivity in research settings rather than in their native wild environment.
Animals are normally killed after research use. Others are tested to death, (described euphemistically as ‘non-recovery’), when the researchers must check a new drug for acute or chronic toxicity, and lethal dose.
The UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 does not protect animals from harm, suffering or death, when bred or used in biomedical research. It defines regulated live animal procedures as that which “may cause that animal a level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by inserting a hypodermic needle. ‘Suffering’ is
categorised as ‘’mild; moderate; non-recovery, (death); or severe suffering.’’
Biotechnology advances now present an ever-stronger case for the elimination of the research use of caged live animals. The Medical Research Council, The Home Office, The Wellcome Trust, many multinational drug companies, together with a growing number of the UK public, support the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction (NC3Rs) of using live animals in research. In the U.S, the
Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), will stop conducting or funding studies on animals by 2035.
Caring Cancer Trust’s ‘ Stopcancer.health ’ animal-free research funding programme fosters the scientific progress of the 3Rs – “Reduce, Refine and Replace” the use of live animals in research. The crucial word for
those live animals is ‘Replace’.
Wyss Harvard University
Bioprinting: From Tissue and Organ Development to in Vitro Models.
The Humane Research Trust, UK
Helping People Save Animals
The Humane Society of the United States
Animals used in biomedical research FAQ.
American Anti-Vivisection Society
Animals in Science; Testing, Research, Dissection, Laws.
U.S. EPA to eliminate all mammal testing by 2035 Speaking of Research
UK Statistics for 2019 for Live Animals in Research
Keywords: Animal-free Cancer Research, Organ-on-a-chip, biotechnology, tissue bioprinting, organ-on-a-chip, Artificial Intelligence (AI), biotechnology, toxicity, neuroscience, Caring Cancer Trust, Stopcancer.health.