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Animal studies: a good guide for clinical trials? Study reveals animal experiments often fail to predict outcomes in humans

Animal studies: a good guide for clinical trials? Study reveals animal experiments often fail to predict outcomes in humans. Jim Giles


Just how useful are animal experiments in predicting the outcome of human trials of new medicines?

Animal-rights activists have long claimed that differences between humans and animals make experiments in species such as rats of little use. Most scientists disagree, saying that drug development would be impossible without initial tests in animals (see our Animal research special).

Now a team of medical researchers has published in the BMJ1 results from what they say is the first attempt to produce a scientific, quantitative answer to this question. The results provide food for thought for any scientist who works with animals.

The authors say they have highlighted serious problems with the way in which animal research is translated into human trials. Only half of the small sample of tests analysed by the team so far produced the same results in animals as they did in people.

The team stresses that this is not an argument against doing animal studies. Even so, the paper is likely to be seized on by activists.

"(Whatever situation we examine), the conclusion is in every case the
same: that vaccination is a gigantic delusion; that it has never saved a
single life; but that it has been the cause of so much disease, so many
deaths, such a vast amount of utterly needless and altogether undeserved
suffering, that it will be classed by the coming generation among the
greatest errors of an ignorant and prejudiced age, and its penal enforcement
the foulest blot on the generally beneficent course of legislation during
our century."--- --Alfred Russel Wallace [Book 1898] Vaccination A Delusion.