In this section we provide the facts about animal research.
Animals provide a useful model for diseases found in both humans and other animals. Even mice have a remarkably similar physiology to that of a human. Physiological systems such as the circulatory system, respiratory system, etc., function in much the same way as they do in humans. In fact, about 95% of animal research is done in rodents. The knowledge gained from research on animals provides a crucial insight into the developments of new treatments.
The medical benefits of animal research have been huge. Did you know that animal research played an important part in the development of penicillin, blood transfusions, anaesthetics, deep brain stimulation and insulin for diabetics? Until such time as we can precisely mimic human and animal biology, and their diseases and treatments, either on a computer or using some other kind of substitute, animal research will continue to be vital to medical advancement. It is not just humans who benefit – all veterinary research is also a product of animal experiments.
Statistics. How many animals are used? What type? Did you know that research on dogs, cats, and primates combined makes up less than 1% of research in most countries? Get your facts straight. This page provides the total number of animals used in a number of countries. Alternatively click from the menu below:
The 3Rs are principles of good science that scientists must adhere to when conducting animal-based research; they are: Replacement – using non-animal alternatives wherever they exist in order that the only research done using animals is that which can be done no other way, Reduction – using as few animals as possible to attain statistically significant results, as well as finding ways to cut down on the number of animals used for any specific piece of research, Refinement – improving animal welfare in laboratories – this may be by enhanced lab technician training, better enrichment inside the cages for animals, redesign of an experiment, etc. Animals are extremely expensive to keep, and all scientists would like to see the day where animal research is no longer needed, however our level of technology at present is not sophisticated enough to remove the need for animal research.
As well as the efforts of scientists to use the 3Rs, there are also stringent regulations which researchers and institutions must abide by. These include the regulatory requirements and the role of the institutional official; the institutional animal care and use committee (different name in other countries); and the attending veterinarian. See more on the regulations in:
Many questions about animal research may also be found in our FAQ on animal research. We also have a list of short tweetable facts about animal research.