Why animal models are still vital to biomedical research

1 October 2016
Animal models are designed to represent human conditions because of our many shared characteristics. This is relevant because the more similar to humans the model’s studied molecular pathways are, the more predictive the outcome of the study will be.

Models today: smarter, better, and making real impacts
Activists criticize the validity of animal models, citing examples of experimental outcomes involving animals that were not very predictive of the human condition. However, they neglect the many cases when animal experiments and models have been critical in the development of major therapies. Today’s models are much better than those from just twenty years ago, and their relevance, quality and smart design are keys to generating significant societal impact.

Developers of non-animal models have their work cut out for them
Over a million EU activists signed a motion to phase out the use of animals in research, but the European Commission has proposed instead to boost progress in ethical lab practices and fuel the development of non-animal alternatives. In this context, the Commission will hold a conference in December 2016 in Brussels to debate the validity of animal models and how best to apply scientific advancements to develop non-animal approaches. It is crucial that this debate is well-informed regarding the value and limitations of animal models, and also that expectations about the development of non-animal alternatives are well-managed, since they will not be viable for use in basic biomedical research in the short to mid term.

This is why VIB has developed an infographic on the use of animals in medical research. This infographic will be communicated to policymakers and other relevant stakeholders through appropriate channels.

Infographic_The use of animals in medical research.pdfInfographic_The use of animals in medical research.pdf

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