Animal research slammed by doctors' group

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Related tags: Research, Science

Much animal research into potential human treatments is wasted
because it is poorly conducted and not thoroughly evaluated,
according to a commentary in the British Medical Journal (28
February).

Reviewing Animal Trials Systematically (RATS), a group of doctors, calls in the article for urgent, formal reviews of existing animal research to make sure that it adheres to the '3 Rs' - reduction and replacement of animals and the refinement of procedures.

The authors 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.

RATS points out that 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.

It calls 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?"

RATS' assertions come at a time when the proportion of total research spending going on basic research - which make the most use of animals - has spiralled from a level of 42 per cent in 1991-2 to 62 per cent in 1998-9.

New research, whether in animals or humans, should only be carried out after a proper systematic review of the existing research, he added, claiming that comparing results from animal and human research will provide an assessment of the contribution of animal research to improving human health.

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Ingredients

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