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Laboratory Animals

FLOE is supported by preeminent primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, acclaimed primatologist and television wildlife presenter Dr Charlotte Uhlenbroek PhD and the much respected, long established Beagle Association – Beagles being the chosen breed of dog for laboratory experiments, internationally. The Beagle Association states: ‘The Beagle Association supports FLOE in it’s campaign against testing on animals, as science now has the means to explain exactly how and why laboratory animals are not capable of predicting human response and so, therefore, testing on animals is not an appropriate way of predicting the human response to drugs.’

In clear distinction from FLOE’s illustration of science – which, as science, does not hold an ethical position about the suffering of laboratory animals – FLOE’s supportive advocates for animals do hold an ethical position about the acute suffering experienced by sentient animals, who are the subjects of these laboratory experiments.

The latest Home Office statistics show that 67% of lab Beagles were experimented on under the assumption that animals are able to predict toxicity in new medicines for humans: namely as claimed ‘predictive’ models in human ‘applied’ studies  (essentially for the toxicity testing of new human medicines and ADME studies). Indeed eighty-eight percent of non-human primates were experimented on for such ‘applied’ studies as were seventy-three percent of all rats.

Please visit our Key Points side panel – to the right – for the scientific definition of prediction and what this actually means for human health. Dr Charlotte Uhlenbroek, the Beagle Association and our additional Beagle supporters are able to appreciate what this means for non-human primates and Beagles with the vital help of investigations that have to be filmed undercover:

WARNING: Beagle toxicity experiments: graphic PETA undercover film footage
WARNING: Primate toxicity experiments, graphic PETA undercover film at Covance laboratory
WARNING: graphic Beagle and Primate toxicity experiments: filmed by a TV company.

WARNING: Click here for stills from the above undercover investigations.

The law that still requires these experiments opposes current understanding of complexity science and evolutionary biology, which explains exactly how and why predicting safety for humans is an impossible task for laboratory animals. Read more about this at the science blog here, where you can click on the many topics and headings, or follow this science blog in our News Feed.

WARNING: 2010 PETA undercover investigation resulted in closure of this Beagle laboratory
WARNING: beagle toxicity experiment, undercover lab photo

A fundamental reason why FLOE matters to its supportive advocates for animals is because the above behaviour would be prosecuted if it were taking place outside the environment of an animal laboratory. It is crucial to them, therefore, for the just and fair rule of law to recognise that such experiments not only fail the scientific criteria of prediction, but also fail to practise morally acceptable science. Please visit FLOE’s RESOURCES and watch the science lecture to appreciate how current science judges up-to-date evidence; for KEY POINTS at a glance, check out our side panel, to the right of this page.

Key Points

Statistics are tools that biological science uses to evaluate whether a method is predictive. For example, when we visit our doctor, we reasonably expect the results from our blood test, x-ray  or urine analysis to be in the range of 90% accurate in order to diagnose  and treat any illness we may have. This is reinforced by standards required by medical practise, where laboratory tests are accepted as predictive – and protective of the safety of humans – only if they are reliable in the region of at least 95%.

What defines prediction? In a scientific context, a prediction is a rigorous (often quantative) statement forecasting what will happen under specific conditions. For more on this please click here. In science, guessing correctly or finding correlations are not the same as predicting the answer.

There have been many studies which evaluate the ability of animal models to predict for humans, such as the study by Lumley and Walker: Animal Toxicity Studies: Their relevance for Man: Quay 1990 p73. This took six medicines and retrospectively tested them on animals. How valuable was the method at predicting for humans? In this study animals predicted correctly for humans only 31% of the time. This percentage would be around the same for random guessing - failing to match the standards required and accepted for prediction in medical practise, and entirely unacceptable for human patients who need help now.

It is important to appreciate that the above study is one of many in the scientific literature and all conclude with a predictive value in the same range of 31%. It will be no surprise, therefore, to learn that the National Institute of Cancer has gone on record saying we have lost cures for cancer because of studies in rodents.

It is also important to realise that the above study is not anecdotal: there are no studies in the scientific literature that show evidence to the contrary, that animals have a predictive value beyond guesswork - either in medicine testing or disease research.

Sometimes you do not need statistics to work out the value of a testing method:

Around 100 vaccines have been shown to have protected monkeys from HIV or SIV or SHIV. Each and every one of these has failed to protect humans from HIV. Thousands of neuroprotectant medicines have been tested in animals and shown to be effective. NONE have been effective in humans.

Please visit this leaflet (suitable as a print out) that summarises many further such examples and the reasons why clinical translation from animals to humans fails.

GRAPHS

The scientific literature has also published many graphs which - again - consistently demonstrate no correlation between a medicine's ability to reach its target in primates, rodents, dogs or humans. Watch this science lecture for more details; read one of many examples of senior researchers who confirm  these statistics

Compare all of the above with the laboratory animal model community's literature, illustrated here by Gad S.C's Animal Models in Toxicology Second Edition 2007:

Biomedical sciences use of animals as models (is to) help understand and predict responses in humans, in toxicology and pharmacology...by and large animals have worked exceptionally well as predictive models for humans...Animals have been used as models for centuries to predict what chemicals and environmental factors would do to humans....The use of animals as predictors of ill effects has grown since that time...if we correctly identify toxic agents (using animals and other predictive model systems) in advance of a product or agent being introduced into the market place or environment, generally it will not be introduced...

Ironically, even the laboratory animal model community has difficulty agreeing with its own text book, above, as demonstrated by its  Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science Volume II Animal Models 1994:

It is impossible to give reliable general rules for the validity of extrapolation from one species to another. This…can often only be verified after the first trials in the target species (humans)…Extrapolation from animal models…will always remain a matter of hindsight….[( Salén 1994)  p6] 

Please help FLOE achieve its aims: to free human medicine from the damaging grip of misapplied veterinary principles and help ensure the unobstructed advance of personalised medicine:

TAKE ACTION TO HELP

For more on FLOE's illustration of science please visit AFMA/EFMA