About Animal Research

Animal research has contributed to most of the medical advances we now take for granted. We have probably all benefited from vaccines and antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, and anesthetics used in all forms of surgery. Medicines and treatments can now overcome serious conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure and effectively treat life threatening illnesses such as Cancer, Heart disease and HIV to name but a few.

Medical research has saved and improved the lives of millions of people. Animals have benefited too through the extensive development of veterinary medicines and procedures. Today’s medicines and surgical techniques could not have been discovered without an in depth understanding of disease and the way the human body and those of a variety of animal species works. All of which is the result of basic research programmes in universities, hospitals and research institutes across the world. These insights can then be taken forward by pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines which doctors and vets use to treat their patients

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Our client Cambridge University explains the vital use of animals in their own Cancer research studies.

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A short clip explaining why animals are essential in medical research and drug discovery.

Medical Progress

 

Medical and scientific organisations and leading scientists all agree that animal research is essential for medical progress.

 

“Scientific and medical research is a drawn-out process and the contribution of animal research is frequently overlooked by the time successful therapy reaches patients. We live longer and healthier lives than ever before. Whilst there have been remarkable improvements in the human environment, animal research has played a major part in developing improvements in human health. Animal research advanced the treatment of infections, helped with immunisation, improved cancer treatment and has had a major impact on managing heart disease, brain disorders, arthritis and transplantation.”

– Professor Robert Winston

Timeline of the world’s medical advances

– – – – Pre 20th Century – – – –

Malaria

Animal research model used: birds

At the end of the 19th century, malaria was believed to be contracted through inhalation of dirty water. Several biologists, Manson, Koch, King and Lavern, separately developed the theory that malaria may be caused by mosquito bites.

Early Anaesthetics

Animal research model used: cats, rabbits, dogs

Fifty years before an anaesthetic was used in patients, Humphrey Davy had demonstrated that nitrous oxide produced a reversible state of unconsciousness in animals. He subsequently inhaled the gas himself, noting on one occasion that the gas relieved toothache.

Vaccine for Cholera

Animal research model used: mice, rats

Experiments on cholera immuno-serum in guinea-pigs showed that unlike previous sera, it did not affect bacterial toxins, but provided immunity by preventing the bacteria from moving and growing. This was termed bacteriolytic immunity. As with anti-toxic immunity, animals could gain immunity through injection with the blood of an immunised animal.

Vaccine for Smallpox

Animal research model used: cattle

The first vaccine was famously developed by the physician Edward Jenner in 1796. He had noticed that milk-maids had unusually smooth skin, and realised that they were not scarred by smallpox scars.

Vaccine for Rabies

Animal research model used: rabbits, dogs

Rabies is a very serious viral infection that targets the brain and nervous system. It is spread by animals to humans. Once the symptoms of rabies have developed, the condition is almost always fatal.

Plague Vaccine

Animal research model used: mice, rats

Plague is an acute bacterial infection caused by the organism Yersinia pestis. Natural infection occurs in a range of mammalian species including rodents, cats and other carnivores, and humans.

Vaccine for Anthrax

Animal research model used: sheep

Anthrax is an infectious disease due to a type of bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. Infection in humans most often involves the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or lungs.

Vaccine for Typhoid

Animal research model used: mice, rats

Typhoid, sometimes known as enteric fever, is a disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. Classic typhoid fever is a serious disease. It can be life-threatening unless treated promptly with antibiotics. The disease lasts several weeks and convalescence takes some time.

Treatment for Beriberi

Animal research model used: chickens

In 1912 Gowland Hopkins showed that beriberi could be caused by lack of nutrients in the diet. He investigated the nutritional needs of rats and mice, feeding young rats on casein, lard, sucrose, starch and minerals. Half the group also received 2ml of milk daily. Those receiving the milk grew well.

– – – – 1900 to Today – – – –

Treatment for Rickets

When: 1900’s

Animal research model used: dogs

Rickets is a condition that affects bone development in children. It causes the bones to become soft and malformed, which can lead to bone deformities.

Discovery of Vitamin C

When: 1900’s

Animal research model used: guinea pigs

Axel Holst and Theodor Frølich, two Norwegian physicians studying shipboard beriberi in the Norwegian fishing fleet, wanted a small test mammal to substitute for the pigeons then used in beriberi research. They fed guinea pigs their test diet of grains and flour, which had earlier produced beriberi in their pigeons, and were surprised when classic scurvy resulted instead.

Modern Anaesthetics

When: 1930s

Animal research model used: rats, rabbits, dogs, cats, monkeys

The most widely used modern intravenous anaesthetic is thiopentone sodium. Effective doses of this barbiturate were established by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, working with rats, rabbits and dogs.

Anticoagulants

When: 1930s

Animal research model used: rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, dogs

Blood clotting (coagulation) disturbs blood flow, and is essential to stop bleeding after a cut. But clotting in the wrong place can lead to deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes. Anticoagulants are used to prevent or treat these.

Kidney Dialysis

When: 1940’s

Animal research model used: guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, monkeys

The first practical demonstration of this process, known as continuous dialysis of blood was by John Abel in 1914, using anaesthetised rabbits and dogs and dialysis membranes made from treated parchment.

Vaccine for Polio

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: mice, monkeys

In 1908, Dr Karl Landsteiner and Dr Erwin Popper used extracts from the spinal cord of a boy who had died from polio to replicate the disease in monkeys.

Cardiac Pacemakers

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: dogs

Wilson Greatbatch, an American electrical engineer, invented the first implantable cardiac pacemaker, in 1958. He also invented pacemaker batteries, which were essential to its function.

Chlorpromazine

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: rats, rabbits, monkeys

First synthesized on December 11, 1950, chlorpromazine was the first drug developed with specific antipsychotic action.

German measles vaccine

When: 1960’s

Animal research model used: monkeys

Rubella (also known as German measles) is a viral infection that used to be common in children. Rubella is usually a mild infection

CT scanning for improved diagnosis

When: 1970’s

Animal research model used: pigs

A CT scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your body.

Migraine medication

When: 1970’s

Animal research model used: cats, dogs

Migraine is a disorder usually involving headaches, which can be debilitating, and affects around six million people in the UK.

Treatment for river blindness

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: rodents, cattle

Onchocerca is a parasitic worm that harms 6.5m people in Africa and South America, blinding many of them. The real cause might be the Wolbachia bacteria that live on the worm. Mice infected with extracts from antibiotic-treated worms showed significantly less thickening and haze of the eye’s cornea.

Medicines to treat viral diseases

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: many species

First reported in 1981, AIDS was quickly shown to be a mysterious epidemic which spread with no known cause. Scientists thought a retrovirus could be the infectious agent.

HIV & AIDS

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: mice, monkeys

First reported in 1981, AIDS was quickly shown to be a mysterious epidemic which spread with no known cause. An extensive population study the following year suggested that the epidemic had already spread globally..

Medicines for breast and prostate cancer

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: mice, rats, dogs

More than 42,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in women after non-melanoma skin cancer. Animal studies contributed to the development of tamoxifen, one of the most successful treatments.

Statins to lower cholesterol

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: rabbits

Statins are cholesterol-lowering medicines. They may be used to treat: hypercholesterolaemia, a high level of cholesterol in the blood. Statins may also be used to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Cervical cancer vaccine

When: 2000’s

Animal research model used: rabbits, cattle

In 1888 Pierre Roux and Alexandre Yersin showed that the liquid in which the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae had been grown caused diphtheria, by injecting it into guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and horses

Stem cells for spinal, heart and vision repair

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice, rats

The most widely used modern intravenous anaesthetic is thiopentone sodium. Effective doses of this barbiturate were established by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, working with rats, rabbits and dogs.

Gene therapy for muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice

Blood clotting (coagulation) disturbs blood flow, and is essential to stop bleeding after a cut. But clotting in the wrong place can lead to deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes. Anticoagulants are used to prevent or treat these.

Corneal Transplants

When: 1900’s

Animal research model used: rabbits

A cornea transplant is an operation used to remove all or part of a damaged cornea and replace it with healthy cornea tissue from the eye of a suitable donor.

Blood Transfusions

When: 1910’s

Animal research model used: dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits

Blood transfusion has saved the lives of countless people and animals. The technique was developed when treated blood was shown to be safe for transfusion in dogs in 1914.

Vaccine for Tetanus

When: 1930s

Animal research model used: horses, guinea pigs

Tetanus vaccine allows your body to create antibodies against the tetanus toxin (tetanospasmin). This protects you from the illness if you are exposed to the Clostridium tetani bacterium in the future.

Penicillin and streptomycin

When: 1940s

Animal research model used: mice

Florey and Chain first tested the effects of penicillin in mice in 1940. By 1941, penicillin was being used to treat dying soldiers. This research won the Nobel Prize in 1945.

Whooping Cough Vaccine

When: 1940’s

Animal research model used: mice, rabbits

In 1931, before vaccination, a standard textbook of bacteriology stated that whooping cough “may be looked upon as one of the major causes of death in civilised countries”. At this time it was responsible for 1.3rd of all deaths in England and Wales.

Hip Replacement Surgery

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: dogs, sheep, goats

A hip replacement is a common type of surgery where a damaged hip joint is replaced with an artificial one (known as prosthesis).

High Blood Pressure Medicine

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: rats, mice, dogs

Research into Brazilian pit viper venom produced the first in a new class of medicines to lower blood pressure – angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

Heart transplants

When: 1960’s

Animal research model used: dogs

The first human-to-human heart transplant in 1967 by Professor Christiaan Barnard in South Africa was big news. Few people knew that the operation was the culmination of more than 60 years of preparatory animal research.

MMR Vaccine

When: 1960’s

Animal research model used: monkeys

MMR is the combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Since the vaccine was introduced in 1988, the number of children who develop these conditions has fallen to an all-time low.

Chemotherapy for leukaemia

When: 1970’s

Animal research model used: mice

Leukaemia is a group of cancers which affect the white blood cells. In the early 1970s, research using mice found that it is vital to destroy all malignant cells in order to get rid of the cancer.

MRI scanning for improved diagnosis

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: rabbits, pigs

US Chemist Paul Lauterbur was present during early analysis of dissected rat tissue by NMR, and felt that it should be possible to study a whole animal in a non-invasive way. Early in the 1970s he generated a two-dimensional image.

Life support systems for premature babies

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: monkeys

In 1870, infant death rates reached their peak, with almost one in four babies dying at birth. This appalling level triggered the first attempts to use incubators to help premature babies.

Medicines to control transplant rejection

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: mice, rabbits, dogs, monkeys

In 1916 Little and Tyzzer also showed that tumours transplanted from one mouse to another of the same strain were not rejected, but mice of a different strain would reject them.

Meningitis vaccines

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: mice

Vaccines for several types of meningitis have been developed in mice and have resulted in a huge fall in the disease. Previously many victims died or had amputations or organ damage.

Medicines for type 2 diabetes

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: mice

Diabetes cannot be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood glucose level as normal as possible and to control your symptoms to prevent health problems developing later in life.

Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's Disease

When: 2000’s

Animal research model used: monkeys

The most widely used modern intravenous anaesthetic is thiopentone sodium. Effective doses of this barbiturate were established by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, working with rats, rabbits and dogs.

Clotting agent from milk

When: 2000’s

Animal research model used: goats

Blood clotting (coagulation) disturbs blood flow, and is essential to stop bleeding after a cut. But clotting in the wrong place can lead to deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes. Anticoagulants are used to prevent or treat these.

Oral or inhaled insulin for type 1 diabetes

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice

Tetanus vaccine allows your body to create antibodies against the tetanus toxin (tetanospasmin). This protects you from the illness if you are exposed to the Clostridium tetani bacterium in the future.

Alzheimer's vaccine

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice

Immunotherapy targeting beta-amyloid can clear plaque in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical studies have shown promise, but with some severe side effects arising from inflammation.

Local Anaesthetics

When: 1900’s

Animal research model used: rabbits, dogs

At about the same time that nitrous oxide in cylinders replaced the use of chloroform, Koller demonstrated that cocaine applied to the eye of a rabbit could induce loss of sensation, thus paving the way for use of cocaine as a local anaesthetic in eye surgery.

Insulin

When: 1920s

Animal research model used: dogs, rabbits, mice

Surgeon Frederick Banting and graduate student Charles Best found that injections of pancreatic cell extracts relieved diabetic symptoms in dogs. The extracts contained insulin, which was then purified using a technique developed in rabbits.

Vaccine for Diphtheria

When: 1930s

Animal research model used: guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, monkeys

In 1888 Pierre Roux and Alexandre Yersin showed that the liquid in which the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae had been grown caused diphtheria, by injecting it into guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and horses.

Discovery of Rhesus Factor

When: 1940’s

Animal research model used: monkeys

Rhesus disease – also known as haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn – is a condition where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells.

Heart-lung machine for open heart surgery

When: 1940’s

Animal research model used: dogs

Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is a technique that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the body.

Kidney Transplants

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: dogs

Research using animals has been involved in developing the techniques of kidney transplants, which give patients freedom from dialysis, allowing them to lead a normal life.

Replacement Heart Valves

When: 1950’s

Animal research model used: dogs, calves, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats

From the 1950s onwards there were many attempts to build artificial valves, that mimicked the anatomy of heart valves, from artificial materials. A team at the University of Minnesota established the structure of heart valves taken from cattle and human cadavers.

Coronary bypass surgery

When: 1960’s

Animal research model used: dogs

A coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is a surgical procedure widely used to treat coronary heart disease. It diverts blood around narrowed or clogged parts of the major arteries (blood vessels), to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart.

Antidepressants and antipsychotics

When: 1960’s

Animal research model used: rats, guinea pigs, rabbits

Experiments in both humans and animals (rats, mice and non-human primates) provided the first evidence that changes in the levels of chemical messengers in the brain, ‘neurotransmitters’, could alter an individual’s emotional state.

Inhaled asthma medication

When: 1970’s

Animal research model used: guinea pigs, rabbits

Asthma is the most common serious childhood illness and still causes about 2,000 deaths a year in the UK. Animal research was used to develop the medicines in the inhalers used by many people, including children, today.

Prenatal corticosteroids improving survival of premature babies

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: sheep, rabbits, cattle

In 1870, infant death rates reached their peak, with almost one in four babies dying at birth. This appalling level triggered the first attempts to use incubators to help premature babies.

Medicines to control transplant rejection

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: mice, rabbits, dogs, monkeys

In 1916 Little and Tyzzer also showed that tumours transplanted from one mouse to another of the same strain were not rejected, but mice of a different strain would reject them.

Treatment for leprosy

When: 1980’s

Animal research model used: armadillos, monkeys

The core body temperature of the armadillo is low enough to favour the growth of the leprosy-causing bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. Using the armadillo, scientists were able to develop an experimental vaccine against leprosy.

Better medicines for depression

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: rats

Drugs developed to treat depression act by increasing the amount of certain chemicals in our brains. These neurotransmitters communicate between nerve cells. Our brains contain many different neurotransmitters, but the two that are particularly important in depression are serotonin and noradrenaline.

New medicines for asthma

When: 1990’s

Animal research model used: guinea pigs, monkeys

Asthma is the most common serious childhood illness and still causes about 2,000 deaths a year in the UK. Animal research was used to develop the medicines in the inhalers used by many people, including children, today.

Monoclonal antibodies for cancers

When: 2000’s

Animal research model used: mice

Tetanus vaccine allows your body to create antibodies against the tetanus toxin (tetanospasmin). This protects you from the illness if you are exposed to the Clostridium tetani bacterium in the future.

Bird flu vaccine

When: 2000’s

Animal research model used: chickens and ferrets

As of January 2012 the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed there have been 583 cases of H5N1 in humans. People who have had bird flu are thought to have developed the virus after coming into close or direct contact with infected birds.

Angiogenesis inhibitors for cancer, blindness

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice

In 1888 Pierre Roux and Alexandre Yersin showed that the liquid in which the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae had been grown caused diphtheria, by injecting it into guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and horses.

Malaria vaccine

Within the next 5 to 10 years

Animal research model used: mice, monkeys

Three types of vaccine are envisaged: anti-infection vaccines, anti-disease vaccines, and transmission-blocking vaccines.

Without Scientific research all our lives would be far worse off. Mankind has developed treatments, cures, medicines and surgical procedures that have increased our life expectancy beyond any other method. Based on the breakthroughs shown above in only a short 100 years who knows where we will be in the next 100 years, a cure or vaccine for all Cancers? Dementia? AID’s?

With such a deep understanding of human and animal biology and continued investment in research it is entirely possible.

Talk to the ATDP today and see how your career can make a difference.

For further reading why not take a look at the following documents:

Animal research has benefits for us all – and animals too

Where do medicines come from?
Look at the timeline from the website www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk and follow their links to see how animal research plays a key role in the development of many of the vaccines and treatments that we have today.

More detailed, evidence-based information about the contribution of animal research to medical and scientific advances is available at www.AnimalResearch.info

Please note that none of the information on our website is intended as medical advice. Further information on specific conditions and their treatment can be found at NHS Direct.

Look at the timeline from the website www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk and follow their links to see how animal research plays a key role in the development of many of the vaccines and treatments that we have today.

More detailed, evidence-based information about the contribution of animal research to medical and scientific advances is available at www.AnimalResearch.info

Please note that none of the information on our website is intended as medical advice. Further information on specific conditions and their treatment can be found at NHS Direct.