The Future Demands a New Way of Thinking
The demonstrated and abysmal failure of animal models requires that we move past these archaic “solutions” and instead turn our attention to smarter, humane methods of advancing science.
The need for humane alternatives—to advance research while moving away from invasive animal experiments—has never been greater. The use of these non-animal models would result in profound benefits for both humans and animals alike.
Here are just a few reasons why researchers should pursue humane alternatives:
Experiments in animals produce misleading results.
Experiments in animals do not accurately predict what happens in humans, and as a result, they produce misleading results. Here are the facts:
- Approximately 60% of drugs that show promise in preclinical animal models fail in human clinical trials because of lack of efficacy.
- An additional 30% of drugs fail because they are toxic to people.
- In total, that means 90% of drugs do not work in humans after animal testing.
The question must be asked: How many potentially effective treatments did not advance to humans because they didn’t work in animals? In order to help the millions of people who need new and better treatments, scientists cannot afford to keep working with models that are not effective.
Animal experiments are expensive and time consuming.
Research dollars will pay much higher dividends if they are used to support the development and use of more human-relevant models, which can produce results faster and cheaper—and help end the unnecessary suffering of laboratory animals.
There are serious ethical concerns with animal experimentation.
Animals can be subjected to a great deal of pain and distress during experimentation, and most are killed after the experiment ends or may die from the experimental procedure itself. Is it ethical to harm animals? Is it ethical to harm humans by continuing to use animals as models for human conditions when they are ineffective? Animals do not get to choose whether or not to participate in an experiment and are at the mercy of the researcher. What entitles humans to experiment on animals and inflict pain upon them?
Investments in animal-free alternatives are paying huge dividends.
Recent studies have shown that computer models are better than animal models in predicting adverse drug effects and chemical toxicity. Researchers have also created a human body-on-a-chip model comprised of 10 different organs-on-chips. This model has the potential to reduce animal use in many areas of research.
Animal experiments are plagued with reproducibility issues.
It has been estimated that 51%-89% of animal studies are not reproducible—in large part because important details regarding the methods researchers use in their experiments are not included in scientific publications. It is difficult to justify the continued funding of work that cannot be reproduced.
Just because researchers have historically relied on animal experiments does not mean they need to continue to do so. The time is right to leave invasive animal studies in the past and to dedicate our efforts to the development, validation and use of humane alternatives. We cannot afford to do otherwise.