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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What happens to animals in laboratory experiments?

Common questions people ask about animal experiments

2. Who experiments on animals?

3. Why do experiments on animals continue if modern scientists have evidence that animals do not predict human responses to diseases and drugs?

4. Where would we be right now if society had focused on human based research?

6. Who are 'Understanding Animal Research' and why do they say animal experiments work in advancing human medicine?

7. I understand that medical breakthroughs have not relied on animal experiments, show me some key examples of this.

5. What harm does animal testing cause to humans?

8. If Animal Experiments were to be abolished tomorrow, what would happen?

9. Give me more details of what we will do if we don't experiment on animals.

10. Do laboratory animals suffer great pain and distress?

11. How the 3Rs fail animal ethics and ignore current science.

12. Where do laboratories get their animals from?

13. The laws mandating animal experiments and when they began?

14. Why do the vivisection community use the word 'extremist' on those who disagree with animal experiments?

Millions of non-human animals are used as resources or research 'models' every year in experimentation in universities and commercial laboratories. Dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, horses, monkeys, hamsters, rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, pigs, cows, sheep, reptiles, fish, a diversity of bird species and many other species suffer our experiments of biology, biochemistry, toxicology, physiology and psychology.

We inoculate them with viruses, alter their DNA, impregnate them and kill the pregnant mothers so we can study their foetuses, we submit them to starvation or electric shocks to test their resistance, burn them alive, apply irritants to their eyes and skin, we block their glands, force them to inhale toxic substances, provoke paralysis, damage their brains, submit them to radiation and extreme temperatures and many more horrific procedures - all in the name of medical research.

1. What happens to animals in Laboratory?

2. Who experiments on animals in the UK?

Pharmaceutical companies such as Glaxo-Smith Kline, AstraZeneca etc. commercial laboratories such as Huntingdon Life Sciences, majority of UK universities, large number of hospitals, and research institutes.

3. Why do experiments continue if modern scientists have evidence that non-human

animals do not predict human responses to diseases and drugs?

There are three non-medical reasons why experiments on animals continue in human medical research.

1. Commerce

For the past 160 years of animal experiments a large number of financially dependent businesses have been established e.g. animal breeders, waste solution companies, contract laboratories etc. These commercially vested interests are worth £Billions every year in the UK. Many UK universities also undertake lucrative commercial contracts to do animal experiments generating substantial funds for the university.

2. Reputation Protection

Many medical researchers have established their life-long research profiles and careers on the basis of publications in journals using the data from animal experiments that 'appears' to have relevance to human medicine. Their experiments are based on the out- dated Victorian assumption that the body of a non-human animal can scientifically predict the effect of a disease or compound in the body of a human. In order to protect their academic reputations and careers its important that scientific evidence which invalidates their animal experiments - experiments past and present - remains unheard by the public and the government.

3. Outdated Laws

The laws which mandated animal testing for the safety of drug testing are 71 years old and therefore out of date with current scientific understanding of Evolutionary Biology and Complexity science. Thus they need repealing.

4. Where would society be right now if we had focused on human-based research?

Science is on the verge of offering personalized medicine. This is medical treatment tailor made for you personally. Not for your mother or father or even your twin. This is in stark contrast to medical treatments based on and tested on animals. If a woman suffers from breast cancer today, her physician will look at her genetic makeup and then determine which treatments are best. This determination factors in the genetic makeup of the woman and the genetic makeup of the cancer. Two sisters that have identical cancers may have different treatments because of subtle genetic differences. Examples like this could be expanded if society stopped funding research with animals and instead funded human-based research. Would you rather take a medical treatment designed for you or one tested on a monkey? for more on human based research visit www.speakingofhumanbasedresearch.com

5. What harm does animal experiments cause to humans?

Animal models have misled scientists in the past and this has resulted in human deaths.

     a)     Penicillin stayed on the shelf for over a decade because the rabbits Fleming tested it on led him to believe it would be ineffective in humans.

     b)     Scientists were misled about HIV enters the human cell because of studies on monkeys.

     c)     The polio vaccine was delayed by decades because the way monkeys responded turned out to be very different from the way humans reacted.

     d)     The cardiopulmonary bypass machine killed the first patients it was used on and it was only after human data was used that the machine became safe.

     e)     Studying strokes and brain hemorrhage in animals has led to multiple medical treatments that worked in animals but that resulted in harm to human patients.

     f)     HIV vaccines that protected monkeys, have actually increased the risk of contracting HIV in the volunteers that took the vaccine.

The flip side of all this is the fact that society has also lost cures and treatments because scientists believed the results from animals.

More examples of where animal experiments have not worked?

Animals simply do not react the same as humans in a reliable manner. For example.

     a)     Cancers in mice have been cured but the cures did not work in humans.

     b)     Humans respond to tobacco and asbestos by suffering from cancer while most animals do not.

     c)     Smoking leads to heart disease in humans not animals.

     d)     High cholesterol leads to heart disease in humans not animals.

     e)     Babies of mothers who took thalidomide in the late 1950s early 1960s suffered severe birth defects but animals for the most part did not.

     f)     Rabbits reacted to the penicillin PCN administered by Fleming in 1929 very differently than humans.

     g)     HRT was administered to women based on animal studies.

     h)     Every drug that kills people tested safe on animals. (Melanoma in dogs is malignant in nailbed, eye, and mouth.)

     i)     Plavix is an anticlotting drugs that is not effective in some people. Plavix is converted by a CYP enzyme in the liver to another chemical that actually does the work of preventing blood clots. If the patient has 2 copies of a variant of the gene coding for this particular CYP enzyme then the drug will not be converted into the active chemical and about 14% of Chinese patients have this variant. However, even patients that have only 1 copy of the variant can also be affected.

Other drugs that are metabolized or processed differently in some way by the body include Iressa, methotrexate,

6-mercaptopurine, codeine, tamoxifen, warfarin aka Coumadin, and succinylcholine. We also know that drugs like 5-FU-based chemotherapies, aspirin, and opiates or other drugs that act on Kappa receptors have effects that vary between the sexes.

All of this at least in part explains why 90% of drugs work in only 30 to 50% of the people.

Physicians have realized for decades that people respond differently to drugs. Because of the Human Genome Project and various spinoffs we now have a lot more data about this. Men are affected differently than women by diseases like cardiovascular diseases and myocardial infarction. But there are a lot more examples.

Caucasians and African-Americans have a similar prevalence of early age-related macular degeneration. However, the progression to the late form of this disease is very rare for African-Americans while being common in Caucasians. Similarly, infantile hemangiomas of the skin are commonly seen in Caucasians but are rare in African-Americans. Certain breast cancers are less common in young black women but usually much more lethal than in young white women even when socioeconomic factors are taken into account. Among cigarette smokers, African Americans and Native Hawaiians are more susceptible to lung cancer than whites, Japanese Americans, and Latinos.

Breast cancer is a good example of a disease that is now treated based on the genotype of the patient and the tumor.

     6. Who are 'Understanding Animal Research' and why do they say animal experiments work in advancing human medicine?

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) are a UK propaganda Public Relations organisation, funded by the wealthy vivisection industry and the majority of UK universities. UAR's sole function is to defend animal experiments to the public. It's only in recent years its name was changed from Research Defence Society. UAR's spokespeople are not scientists but are responsible for defending the animal experimenters in the media. Their mantras in media interviews perpetuate archaic Victorian assumptions upon which animal experiments were predicated i.e. the bodies of non-human animals are similar enough to humans to be capable of predicting human responses to disease and compounds. All of which ignores advanced scientific understanding of Evolutionary Biology and Complexity Science and empirical evidence to the contrary. Additionally, their use of repeated slogans such as 'it's a choice between your dog and your child' are used to brainwash the public into believing animal experiments are valid and essential in human medical research.

7. I understand that medical breakthroughs have not relied on animals experiments, show me some key examples of this

Research modalities such as epidemiology, research with human tissue, advances in technology, and so forth have been responsible for many major breakthroughs.

Scanners such as the MRI and CT and the association of smoking with certain diseases are arguably the two biggest advances in medicine in the past 50 or so years. They are examples of non-animal - based research - specifically epidemiology and technology-based advances. (Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting health and illness in populations.) The link between smoking and heart disease, and between spina bifida and folic acid deficiency are just some of the fruits of epidemiological research. Essentially everything we know about HIV/AIDS we learned from studying humans and human tissues. The identification and purification of insulin and cataract removal are other examples of medical advances achieved through human-based research. For more visit www.speakingofhumanbasedresearch.com

8. If Animal Experiments were to be abolished tomorrow, what would happen?

Society need not fear that the abandonment of the animal model will hinder medical progress; in fact science - and the patients awaiting life saving treatments and cures - will be far better served in both the short and long term. As we will see, modern day science has a vast array of tools and technologies at its disposal to replace a paradigm judged by current scientific knowledge as never having worked in the first place. Animals have never been able to 'predict' human responses for medical research. On the other hand, modern tools and technologies range from clinical research to in-vitro technologies using human tissue to molecular modeling and many others. Greater focus on these non-animal modalities, both in terms of scientific interest and in funding, will unquestionably accelerate, rather than hinder medical progress.

9. Give me more details outlining what we will do if we don't experiment on animals?

The first answer is that scientists should not claim that animals can predict human response to drugs and disease and regulatory agencies should not make that claim either. Neither should regulatory agencies mandate policies that are based on the false claim that animals can predict human response.

Animal models are actually a very minor part of research. However, despite not allowing scientists to predict human response, they receive the lion's share of the research funding. There are 2 points that need to be made:

     1.     Society does not need new research methods it simply needs to fund the ones we already have. For example, performing research on animals is not going to solve the problem of drug resistant infections. Research in physics on the other hand might because physics offers society the chance to design nanomachines that will mechanically destroy the bacteria. Regardless of the bacteria's genetic makeup it can be mechanically crushed or chewed up. So society needs the knowledge that would come from underfunded research areas like physics, chemistry, genetics, epidemiology, clinical research and so forth.

     1.     Society needs to make a fundamental change from animal-based research to human-based research. If it is humans we are trying to help then scientists must study diseases and drug reactions in humans. This is already being done but again funding needs to be increased to these areas. The way to accomplish both number 1 and 2 is to stop funding research that does not work, thus freeing up the money that needs to be spent on the research where future cures will come from!

Genome-wide association studies and other studies in genetics will lead to more examples of personalized medicine. Epidemiology linked smoking to cancer and heart disease, vitamin deficiencies to diseases, folic acid deficiency in pregnant mothers to spina bifida and so on. We need more in vitro research using human tissues for example in vitro metabolism studies using human liver cells. We need more clinical research in general, more extensive clinical trials for new medications including gene-based trials, funding for human observation studies, all these are human-based. Autopsies are also human-based obviously and they are very underfunded and under performed. When autopsies are performed on people who have died in intensive care units the pathologist frequently finds a disease that contributed to the death of the patient that the physicians missed. There is still a lot physicians have to learn about diseases and autopsies allow us to obtain that knowledge.

A new method of obtaining knowledge about a drug will do in humans is called microdosing. With microdosing very, very tiny amounts of a new drug are administered to human volunteers and scientists evaluate what the drug does to the body and what the body does to the drug.

Post-marketing drug surveillance is required when new drugs come to market but it is not enforced. Considering all the drugs that we now use for one purpose but that were designed for another purpose, this is a very important area to fund and enforce.

We more funding in basic research in the fields of chemistry and physics and then further research in engineering. That is where we get the great advances in technology. Finally, we need far more emphasis in terms of money going to prevention. Prevention has long been ignored in this society, as it offers no monetary reward for the practitioners. It is estimated that 80% of all cancers could be prevented and approximately the same percentage of heart disease and other killers. Prevention and research that leads to personalized medicine are probably the two most underfunded areas of research.

Yes. In light of what we have discussed and other factors, it would be in the best interest of people suffering from diseases for society and researchers to abandon the animal model.

First, because it is ineffective. As animal-based research does not lead to cures it should be abandoned, regardless of so-called alternatives. There are no alternatives to something that is ineffective. There is no alternative for example to buying a used car for space travel.

Second, We have BETTER options. Today we are seeing the dawning of the age of personalized medicine, because of advances in technology, genetics and so forth. We discuss these scientifically valid research modalities at some length in our books. The animal model in addition to its flaws, has simply outlived its usefulness. Third, the animal model diverts funds from viable research modalities and fourth, it misleads researchers. Fifth, scores of recalled drugs prove that the animal model does not keep bad drugs off market, and sixth and most importantly, when results from animals are extrapolated to humans, humans are harmed.

Are you saying that animal models should be abandoned because they have never worked as predictive models for humans?

10. Do laboratory animals suffer great pain and distress?

Hundreds of millions of nonhuman animals are used as resources or research models every year in experimentation in universities and laboratories throughout the world. Rats and mice, hamsters, rabbits, gerbils, dogs, cats, pigs, cows, sheep, reptiles, trout, Rhesus Macaques, a diversity of bird species and many others suffer our experiments of biology, biochemistry, physiology and psychology.

We inoculate them with viruses, alter their DNA, impregnate them and kill the pregnant mothers so we can study their fetuses, we submit them to starvation or electric shocks to test their resistance, burn them alive, apply irritants to their eyes and skin, we block their glands, force them to inhale toxic substances, provoke paralysis, submit them to radiation and extreme temperatures. Kept indoors, taken away from their families and kept in cages alone is cruel and going against all the natural feelings of such creatures. The government and pro vivisection lobby groups recognise that cruelty is the concern for many people they have about vivisection which leads to Question 11 about the 3Rs.

11. How the 3Rs fail animal ethics and ignore current science

The National Centre for 3RS - "reduction, refinement and replacement" - are widely held to be an 'ethical' policy, despite their context appearing to be a contradiction in terms: "The 3Rs are a widely accepted ethical framework for conducting scientific experiments using animals humanely". It is not possible to experiment on an animal humanely, taking away an animal's right to live its natural life - i.e. caging it in an unnatural laboratory with traumatic space confinement - is already inhumane, before the experiment has begun. But the 3Rs also ignores current science too.

     a)     Merely 'Reducing' animal numbers still leaves many left over, languishing in pain and fear in laboratories. Merely 'reducing' animal numbers also ignores current science for human patients, which demonstrates that animal experiments have never been able to predict human responses in the first place. Merely 'reducing' animal numbers fails everyone.

     b)     Merely "Refining" harmful procedures, such as improving animal housing conditions during the experiments, adds insult to injury - imagine 'refining ' the housing conditions for Jewish prisoners of war during the experiments carried out on them at Auschwitz. This is an unacceptable ethical policy and also ignores the current scientific position: NO TO ANIMAL experiments is evidenced by the world's leading medical experts who have proven innocent animals are not capable of predicting human responses for medical research. The Home Office stats from 2012 confirm that 85% of all experiments on Beagles were for this purpose. Refining conditions for such experiments that harm everyone amounts to criminal negligence.

     i)     The word 'Alternative' means you arrive at the same destination via an 'alternative' route. Animal experiments are not able to predict human responses. Animal experiments have never been able to predict human responses. It doesn't make sense to call for an 'alternative' route to animal experiments, which will arrive at failure land too. The correct term for 'Replacement' of animal experiments is 'valid methods' because they have a proven track record of success. For more about these human biology-based methods, which have a proven track record of success, please visit Question 7.

Pro-vivisection lobbyists promote the 3Rs too

It is important to appreciate that the 3Rs ("reduction, refinement and replacement") are also promoted by the UK's leading pro-vivisection public relations group Understanding Animal Research. The 3Rs are also promoted by scientists who experiment on animals, an example being Dr Andrew Bennett, the director of the 'Alternatives' Laboratory at FRAME. Dr Bennett recently participated in the aptly re-named bogus animal research debate with fellow animal experimenter Prof. Colin Blakemore, criticised here in a joint statement by the RSPCA and CASJ. FRAME's position is summarised on their website, they clearly support the continued use of experiments on animals and "recognise that the immediate abolition of all laboratory animal use is not possible". FRAME's position is not supported by No to Animal Experiments, neither is FRAME's position supported by pharmaceutical companies who acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process and write about this openly and often in the scientific literature.

12. Where do laboratories get their animals from?

Pharmaceutical companies and Universities can breed animals in-house or purchase them from multi national licensed breeding facilities such as Charles River Laboratories, Harlan and B&K Universal animal breeders to name a few. Harlan and B&K Universal are the largest of Beagle breeders in the UK, you could go on Harlan's website recently and see a shopping basket to buy Beagles online ranging from 1500 to 2000 GBP. At B&K Universal and Harlan, Beagles are asked to sit, stand and offer their forelimb. Then they move to the more advanced training: offering up their jugular - so they can get used to having blood taken; sitting still with a mask on their face - so they can receive medication; allowing clippers to be run over their neck - in case they need to be shaved. When the training is complete, they will be ready to send out for experiments to laboratories.

13. When did animal experiments begin and the laws mandating them?

Experiments on animals, claimed as able to 'predict' human responses for human medicine, first became institutionalised nearly 160 years ago in 1847 through a French physician Claude Bernard. This quickly grew to become the mainstay for twentieth century biomedical research.


When did animal experiments first become a requirement by law?

76 years ago In 1938, the US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act first required some animal testing by law, and this became yet further enshrined 68 years ago in the 1946 Nuremberg Code. It's hard to believe the same law has not changed in 68 years, even though expert scientists now have the evidence that animal experiments fail human medicine.

Read The full article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6939/13/16

     14. Why do the vivisection community use the word 'extremist' on those who disagree with animal experiments?

You will often hear the vivisection community using the name "extremist" when referring to someone who cares for animals, so for them someone who say holds a placard or uses a megaphone in a legal demonstration is an "extremist", in reality we have to ask ourselves, who are the extremists when the vivisection community are burning, scolding, sewing kittens eye lids shut or cutting the brains of a monkey open, even though this brings no medical benefit to humans? The media look for interesting impactful headlines so often used such words.

We urge you to please watch this video recently taken where campaigners were taking part in a typical demonstration, met by vivisectors and laboratory staff. Here you will see the reality of extremism is very different to what the public is told.

In the film animal rights campaigners are mourning for the monkeys that are killed at UCLA by vivisectors, you can make your own mind up what you think of the vivisectors and who the real 'extremists' are.

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Read The Full Comprensive Referenced List Here