Science is good. We all benefit from scientific advances. Scientists/science professionals are good. Scientists are working everyday to improve our lives, to understand health, disease and injury and to find preventions, cures, and treatments. Research is the foundation of science. Animals are the foundation of biomedical/medical research.

Animal research works. It works for humans, and it works for animals. Humans and animals both benefit from scientific advances made through research and discovery. Animal research has been responsible, at least in part, for every major medical and veterinary advance made over the past one hundred years.

Examples include:

  • analgesics
  • antibiotics
  • anti-cancer drugs
  • blood transfusion
  • bone grafts
  • chemotherapy
  • diagnostic tests
  • dialysisorgan transplantation
  • skin grafts
  • surfactant therapy
  • surgical techniques
  • vaccines
  • treatments for Addison’s disease
  • treatments for arthritis
  • treatments for cardiovascular disease
  • treatments for diabetes
  • treatments for HIV/AIDS
  • treatments for hypertension
  • treatments for leukemia
  • treatments for neurological disorders

Animal research is humane. Science professionals are good people who care for and about their animals. Veterinarians are a part of every research team to ensure animals receive the best of care and that they are treated humanely throughout the process.

Researchers are committed to the three R’s. Reduce the number of animals to the minimum required to get valid results; Replace animal models with non-animal models whenever possible; and Refine studies to ensure the most human conditions.

The vast majority of animals studied in research are rats and mice (90% – 95%). Scientists need other animal models as well and major breakthroughs have been made thanks to studies conducted with these animals: non-human primates, cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, woodchucks, pigs, sheep, armadillos, snakes, leeches, zebra fish, squid, horseshow crabs, worms, and fruit flies.

Most research studies don’t cause significant pain or distress. Care is taken to protect animals from undue stress, which can distort study results.

Animal research is regulated. Federal laws govern animal research in the U.S. The Animal Welfare Act and the U.S. Public Health Service Policy set out the standards for the care of animals in research. All research institutions are required by law to establish an animal research oversight committee (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee – IACUC) and researchers must justify the need, procedures, and protocols for all studies involving animals.

Animal research is necessary. Animal research is integral to ongoing research.

Examples include:

  • spinal cord repair
  • stem cell treatments
  • treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
  • gene therapy
  • molecularly targeted cancer medicines
  • treatments for muscular dystrophy
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • heart disease

No complete alternatives to animal research exist. Animal research is not exclusive. It is used with epidemiological studies, computer modeling, tissue and cell cultures, and human trials.

The need for animal research is recognized and supported by medical organizations, health agencies, and professional societies worldwide including:

American College of Surgeons
American College of Anesthesiologists
American Medical Association
American Physiological Society
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Professors of Medicine
Association for Research in Vision and Opthamology
Society for Neuroscience
Society of Toxicology

Source: “A Handbook for Science Professionals: Public Outreach & Communications” produced by States United for Biomedical Research with funding from the AALAS Foundation