The Metro, a free UK newspaper read by around 3.5 million British commuters each day, today showed why the British public do not find animal research a particularly contentious issue. In less than 200 words,The Metro reported on the use of naked mole rats in the fight against cancer.
The naked mole rat has an inbuilt resistance to tumours and can live for 30 years, compared with the four-year lifespan of similar sized mice. …Early studies suggest the rat’s cells have a tumour resistant capacity absent in other rodents or in humans.
The blunt reporting on this new rodent model for cancer helps to explain why 90% of the British public support animal research. Scientists were also not afraid to put their name to their work. Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes said:
‘We aim to use the naked mole-rat genome to understand the level of resistance it has to disease, particularly cancer … This might give us more clues as to why some animals and humans are more prone to disease than others… With this work, we want to establish the naked mole-rat as the first model of resistance to chronic diseases of ageing.’
The lack of reporting in US media about animal research cannot be blamed solely on the news agencies. Rather that press releases released by universities and research institutions are not taking the time to make the clear link between the medical benefits being developed, and the animal research making it possible.