Mythbusters: Doubting animals as effective models of human disease

Medion   DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a common argument, and one that we’ve probably all heard. “90% of drugs deemed successful in animal studies fail in human clinical trials.” Activists say this to discredit animal-based research and argue that animals are not acceptable models for human disease.

Well… let’s look at the numbers. While it’s true that up to 90% of potential drugs are unsuccessful, that percentage includes drugs that are found to be unsafe using many different methods, including human trials- and many of these are abandoned for reasons unrelated to safety, including cost of development, demand, and litigation. Without animal research, the failure rate would be much higher.

Here’s a fun fact- 86% of drugs that pass Phase I human trials later fail in human tests. But that doesn’t mean that humans are unacceptable models for human disease- it simply means that we’re all different. A drug that is successful in treating one person’s disease could be completely ineffective on their sibling. And this is an excellent argument FOR animal-based research! If researchers only tested new drugs on humans, the variations between individuals would be extremely confounding to study results. But by working with genetically similar animals that are well-understood, disease processes and drug interactions are able to be more accurately documented. Look at the research for yourself- what do YOU think?

6 thoughts on “Mythbusters: Doubting animals as effective models of human disease

    1. Science Kicks Ass Post author

      I have seen this video before, and it was just as hard to watch as the first time I saw it. Despite the title, that is NOT animal research. People in the field of research will tell you that animal care is a top priority! Stressed and abused animals are NOT what anyone wants. Those people in that video do not deserve to ever be working with animals or have any kind of pets! Unfortunately, these clips are what the public is exposed to, and it’s easy to watch videos like this and have a negative view of research- if that’s what research really was, I would be against it too! May I ask, what is your experience with animals in research? Have you worked in the field? If not, I would ask that you try to talk to people who do this for a living, and hopefully you will leave with a more realistic view of research. I don’t blame you for being upset if you think that this video is indicative of every research facility- but please know that this is not illustrating the majority of research. In every field, you get some dishonest jerks that aren’t there for the right reasons, but that is not the face of research. Thank you for commenting!

  1. BiomedRocks

    I agree with SKA – if I saw what’s happening in that video, I wouldn’t have any hesitation to shut that crap down! Doing research utilizing animals is a privilege – and we in laboratory animal science protect our animals. If we see someone abusing an animal – or even doing something they’re not specifically approved to do!! – we shut them down. Anyone who believes what they see in videos like this is very misinformed. And, ask yourself this – why did the cameraman allow it to happen? We sure wouldn’t!!

  2. Anonymous

    I too have seen this video before. It makes me sick to my stomach, just like watching those animal cop shows. It makes the American public appear ignorant in caring for their animals. Lucky that we have trained caring individuals to care for our research animals. Knowing why an animal needs a particular food, for example, can keep them alive. Having a daily supply of vitamin C in the diet is very important for some animals while not so important in others. Wow, glad we have nutritionists to study animal needs so we can all feed the right foods to our pets!!! Wouldn’t give my hamster food to my dog!!!!

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