Ricky Gervais, with beautiful Beagle Scarlett.

FLOE's Patron, Peter Egan, with Scarlett.

Photos © K9 Magazine

Science Campaign

Historical Perspective

Animal experiments, for human patients, were first institutionalised in 1847 by a French doctor Claude Bernard, who went on to reject the Theory of Evolution. Read more.

Beagle experiments are still used today to measure the levels of toxicity in new human medicines – however these tests are now shown to correlate with human outcomes around 31% of the time. This is not science; it’s less than the toss of a coin and worse than guessing. [1-3]

How do we know animal testing is failing human patients?

Experts working in the wider scientific community – outside the vested interests of animal-based research – agree that animals are now shown to fail as predictive models of humans. These experts are far too many to name here, but they include:

Pharmaceutical companies, which acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process, and write about this openly and often in the scientific literature.

Former Secretary  for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt said:

“currently 9 out of 10 experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies”.

The National Cancer Institute says ‘we have lost cures for cancer because studies  in rodents have been believed’. [4]

The Editor in Chief of the British Medical Journal highlighted the lack of predictive value animal tests have for humans, in an Editor’s Choice tiled How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research [5] This article concluded by quoting from the paper it cited:

“If research conducted on animals continues to be unable to reasonably predict what can be expected in humans, the public’s continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced”.

Trans-Species Modeling Theory

Leading experts at Americans and Europeans for Medical Advancement (AFMA/EFMA)  have now produced the breakthrough Trans-Species Modelling Theory (TSMT) which is like the Theory of Relativity and Theory of Evolution, in that it places decades of practical evidence within a wider scientific context to explain why something has always occurred – and why it always will occur. In this case, TSMT places decades of peer reviewed papers illustrating the failure of animal testing within the wider context of evolutionary biology and complexity science, to explain why animal experiments have always failed as predictive models of humans – and why they will always fail. For more on TSMT please visit this link.

Award winning oncologist Dr. Azra Raza delivered her TED-X talk against using animal models of cancer for human patients, below:

For a more complete list of the experts who agree: animal models are now shown to fail human patients, please visit the peer-reviewed papers at AFMA/EFMA and look at the references there.

Easily accessible article by top medical doctor

This is perfect for the layman with no formal science training; it’s a great article written by a top specialist in this field, Dr Ray Greek, and explains why experiments on dogs – and other animals – will not provide human treatments and cures; to read the article please visit this link.

What does having ‘predictive value’ mean in medicine?

For a test to be accepted as having ‘predictive value’ by our hospital doctors and GPs – for example, to diagnose if a patient has cancer or HIV AIDS – that test needs to predict the correct answer for patients around 90 – 95% of the time, otherwise it is abandoned. The following excerpt illustrates this well, it’s from a peer reviewed paper by Drs. Shanks and Greek: Are Animal Models Predictive for Humans? 

‘By definition, when we speak of animals predicting human response in drug testing and disease research we are addressing the risks of wrong predictions and how much risk society is willing to tolerate. Troglitazone (Rezulin™) is a good example of the margin of error for medical practice tolerated in society today. Troglitazone was taken by well over 1 million people with less 1% suffering liver failure, yet the drug was withdrawn because of this side effect [33]

Rofecoxib (Vioxx™) is another example of the small percentage of morbidity or mortality tolerated in the practice of medicine vis-à-vis introducing a new drug. Figures vary, and are controversial, but it now appears that apparently less than 1% of people who took rofecoxib experienced a heart attack or stroke as a result, yet it was also withdrawn [35]

This is an important point. Medical practice does not tolerate risks (probability of being wrong) acceptable in some experiments conducted in labs. In basic research we might proceed with a study based on the outcome being more likely than not. For basic research this is acceptable. However, getting the answer wrong in medical practice has consequences; people die. Societal standards for medical practice today demand very high sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV from its tests.’

Why does animal testing continue?

Animal testing for human patients in now demonstrated to have outlived its scientific usefulness, but it has also grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise which serves its vested interests in academia: the animal-based researchers working at universities globally, as well as the industries that breed lab animals and manufacturers which make lab equipment. For an idea of the amount of money in animal-based research please visit this link. For more on this financial perspective please visit this page.

Concordat On Openness On Animal Research

The Concordat On Openness On Animal Research proclaims to develop communications with the media and public – and has been signed by most universities and institutions which received grants to conduct animal experiments. However, none of these institutions have yet agreed to provide a scientist to debate their claims – that animal experiments can predict the responses of human patients – in the hearing now called for by over 100 cross-party MPs.

Open Letter calling for a rigorous science hearing

An Open Letter to Britain’s main advocate for animal experiments, Prof. Colin Blakemore, has been signed by signatories including Ricky Gervais, Peter Egan, Chris Packham, Paul O’Grady, Lesley Nicol and Dr. Jane Goodall. The letter asks Prof. Blakemore to agree to take part in a rigorous public medical debate, judged by independent experts from the relevant fields of science – read more.

References

  1. Lumley CE, Walker S Lancaster, Quay, editors, 1990, ‘Clinical Toxicity – Could it have been predicted? Post-marketing experience’, 57–67; Heywood R. Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man.
  2. Shanks N, Greek R Animal Models in Light of Evolution Boca Raton: Brown Walker Press; 2009.
  3. Shanks N, Greek R, Greek J: ‘Are Animal Models Predictive for Humans?’ Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2009, 4:2
  4. Gura T: ‘Cancer Models: Systems for identifying new drugs are often faulty’. Science. 1997, 278 (5340): 1041-1042. 10.1126/science.278.5340.1041.
  5. BMJ 2014; 348: g 3719  (available here).