Closed petition Ban all animal experiments & redirect Government funding to human-based research

Experiments on dogs, primates & other animals are today widely reported to be entirely failing the search for human treatments & cures. The Gov. must recognise this evidence, ban these cruel animal experiments & redirect all Gov. funding to human-based methods, such as gene-based medicine.

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The 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act & its 1959 3Rs laws have been surpassed by the 2003 Human Genome Project & Trans-Species Modelling Theory, explaining why animal experiments have a widely reported 90% failure rate, in human trials. The Gov. must recognise the life & death consequences of continuing to fund animal-based research for humans; that we have entered the era of personalised medicine & immediately ban all animal tests, to free up funding for relevant human-based studies.

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Government responded

This response was given on 17 January 2022

Animal testing is a critical part of understanding human and animal health and treating disease and can only be conducted legally in the UK when there are no alternatives.

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Research programmes involve the integration of many different research methods including work in test tubes, computer modelling, the use of human cells and tissues, the use of animal models and testing in humans (clinical trials). Such programmes proceed in a step wise manner with testing in animals and then in humans only occurring when other methods cannot be used. This approach also ensures the use of animals does not occur until all non-animal testing to maximise safety is conducted and likewise exposure of new chemicals to humans does not occur until all safety testing in test tubes, tissues, computer programmes and animal models limits the risks to humans.

Government funding for research (based on health priorities) covers a wide range of methodologies (of which animal testing constitutes a small component) from which data is integrated to advance our scientific understanding and develop safe, effective treatments for humans and animals and ensure human, animal and environmental safety. Such governmental funding includes funding for development of non-animal alternatives and refinements to animal models.

The use of animals in science is highly regulated, including a three-tier system of licensing which licences the location of any animal use, the exact programme of work which will include animals and every individual performing regulated procedures on animals. Establishments where animals are used in science are required to have governance systems and dedicated individuals (including veterinary surgeons) with legal responsibilities for the care and welfare of animals. All establishments also are legally required to have an ethical review body which reviews any proposals for the use of animals and promotes the replacement and reduction of animal use. Such ethical bodies are legally required to ensure lay representation. The regulator conducts an integrated assessment of the compliance of all licence holders including on-site inspections. The regulator has published and enforces standards for the care and accommodation of all animals used in science and legally anaesthesia and analgesia needs to be used for any painful procedures unless there is a justifiable scientific reason why this is not appropriate.

Although scientific progress has meant that many scientific objectives can be achieved without the use of animals there are still areas where this is not possible. One example of this is assessing what is called the ‘reproductive toxicity’ of a chemical or potential new medicine. This means understanding if a chemical causes abnormalities in fertility, or abnormal development of offspring or even problems with the fertility of offspring of those exposed to such a chemical. Although some initial screening tests in this area can be performed without the use of animals, animal tests are still necessary for these assessments and such tests have prevented substances being developed further or marketed which would have had significant negative impact on fertility or developing embryos.

Animal models are constantly improving to become more accurate and predictive and scientists understand progressively more about which biological systems in which animals offer the most scientifically valid results. Improvements in understanding the genetic make-up of animals and humans has been critical to ensuring scientific research in animals is understood and applied appropriately. Data from animal experiments are constantly fed into computer models which analyse their predictivity and enable scientists to increasingly use animal models in smarter and more predictable ways and where possible to reduce or replace them.

Many potential medicines (up to 90%) do fail during development but this does not demonstrate that animal testing is not useful or necessary or that it is these animal tests which have failed. There are many reasons why drugs that are assessed as potentially effective and safe in animals do not progress to market, including commercial reasons. Although there are always some effects in humans that cannot be accurately predicted in animals, animal studies are successfully used to characterise dangerous effects of potential medicines with respect to the target organs which may be affected and to understand how such effects vary with the dose of the substance administered. Additional information can be obtained about whether toxic effects seen can be reversed. This information allows for the identification of factors which can be monitored to assess adverse effects from potential new medicines in their first clinical trials and to establish the first dose which can safely be given in these studies. This is a critical part of protecting the safety of the participants (often healthy volunteers) in these studies. Results from animal studies, therefore, are used as the basis for extrapolation to indicate and manage possible risks to humans.

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