Researchers condemn animal tests as unreliable

Posted on the 15th August 2008

Scientists have spoken out against the reliability of animal tests in two separate instances this week.

Leading pain experts have published a paper calling for a greater focus on high-tech, non-animal research to help people suffering from chronic pain. Thousands of experiments, which deliberately inflict pain on conscious animals, are conducted every year worldwide, yet, according to the experts, ‘animal models of pain are simplistic and fail to replicate the multi-dimensional experience of human pain with its complex genetic, biological and psychological aspects’. Instead of animal tests, they advocate the use of powerful brain imaging techniques, such as MRI scans, to study the effects of pain and pain relief in the human brain.

In a separate instance, dermatology experts warned that new research linking skin moisturisers to cancer should be viewed with caution because of important differences between mice and humans. According to David Leffell, of Yale School of Medicine, the skin of mice is much thinner, so we cannot conclude that the same effects would be noted in humans. Jonathan Rees, professor of dermatology at Edinburgh University, echoed this view, stating: ‘Studies of mouse skin cancer have contributed little to our understanding of human skin cancer.’

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