During World Week for Animals in Laboratories, an international week of commemoration for animals in research, we are reminded of the millions of animals who are subjected to experimentation each year.
Commemorating the lives of research animals, however, is the least we can do to honor them. The best thing we can do is to end the exploitation of animals in the name of science and bring their suffering to an end for good.
Opportunities to advance research while moving away from invasive animal experiments have never been better, and the use of non-animal models would result in profound benefits for both humans and animals alike.
Here are five reasons why researchers should pursue human-relevant alternatives:
- Experiments in animals produce misleading results. Approximately 90% of drugs that show promise in preclinical animal models fail in human clinical trials because of lack of efficacy or because they are toxic to people. We cannot afford to keep working with ineffective models if we truly want to help people who need new and better treatments.
- Animal experiments are expensive and time consuming. Research dollars will pay much higher dividends if used to support the development and use of more human-relevant models, which can produce results faster and cheaper—and help end the unnecessary suffering of laboratory animals.
- There are serious ethical concerns with animal experimentation. Animals can be subjected to a great deal of pain and distress during experimentation, and most are killed after the experiment ends or may die from the experimental procedure itself. Is it ethical to harm animals? Is it ethical to harm humans by continuing to use animals as models for human conditions when they are ineffective?
- Animal experiments are plagued with reproducibility issues. It has been estimated that 51%-89% of animal studies are not reproducible—in large part because important details regarding the methods researchers use in their experiments are not included in scientific publications. It is difficult to justify the continued funding of work that cannot be reproduced.
- Investments in animal-free alternatives are paying huge dividends. More and more studies are showing that computer models and cell-based approaches, like organ-on-a-chip models, are better at predicting human responses than animal models and may help reduce or replace animal use in many areas of research.
Just because researchers have historically relied on animal experiments does not mean they need to continue to do so. The time is right to leave invasive animal studies in the past. We cannot afford to do otherwise.
Help NAVS support the advancement of smarter, human-relevant science that does not harm animals by making a donation today.