This is the simple message that Cancer Research UK (CRUK) hope to get across in their new leaflet about why they fund and conduct research on animals.
The leaflet covers many important points, including why CRUK uses animal models:
Its efforts to replace animal tests:
And how animal welfare is maintained:
That such research is needed is made clear by today’s report that deaths from prostate cancer have fallen by 20% in the UK in the last 20 years, due to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. While this is good news it highlights the need for further improvement in the treatment of prostate cancer. An example of improving therapies for prostate cancer is the drug Abiraterone (marketed as Zytiga), which was approved for use in advanced prostate cancer in the UK last year, and was identified through research in mice by scientists at what is now a CRUK funded research centre (CRUK was founded in 2002 when the Cancer Research campaign and Imperial Cancer Research Fund merged). Last year also saw the approval of the skin cancer therapy vasmodegib, a drug whose CRUK supported development started with a study of the regulation of development in fruit flies. This work continues today as CRUK funded scientists make discoveries through animal research that will help to develop the next generation of therapies for a wide range of cancers.
We have previously mentioned the efforts by medical research charities in the UK to discuss their reasons for funding animal research. This includes Alzheimer’s Research UK’s leaflet and the British Heart Foundation’s Mending Broken Hearts Campaign. CRUK’s leaflet is another fantastic contribution by British medical research charities. Sadly, US charities still have some way to go, as we found when assessing the strengths of their position statements.
Speaking of Research