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Increase in animal experiments demands Government must act now to modernise medical research

Published on June 30, 2022

Latest Home Office figures published today show spikes in use of dogs, monkeys, cats and horses  – even though their use fails to benefit human health 

Animal Free Research UK is calling on the government to take immediate action to replace animal experiments with modern and humane methods that produce better results for patients.

Home Office figures published today reveal that over 3 million scientific experiments were conducted on animals in Great Britain in 2021 – up 6% on 2020.

The use of dogs was up 3% year on year  – and up by 24% in the last decade – with more than 4,000 experiments carried out on 2,600 dogs, the figures show.

The use of cats has increased by 6% and horses up by 29%, while the use of monkeys is up by 17% – with 90% of monkeys imported from Africa and Asia.

The increase in animal use comes at time when the availability of human relevant methods – New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) including artificial intelligence,  organ-on-a-chip and stem-cell culture – are at an all-time high, and are championed for producing more accurate results in the quest to treat illnesses including cancer and heart disease faster and better.

Dr Jarrod Bailey, Animal Free Research UK’s Science Director, said: “These statistics make for distressing reading – with animal research heading back to ‘business as usual’ in Britain.

“For example, most dogs and monkeys are used for regulatory purposes, such as the testing of new drugs – yet that’s despite there being substantial scientific evidence and acceptance that this does not and cannot predict human safety and efficacy.

“Some of the biggest areas of animal research are neuroscience, the immune system and cancer – yet these are acknowledged as some of the biggest areas of failure in terms of the translation of animal research to human benefit.”

Also of concern is that in 2020 and 2021, the Home Office did not refuse any applications for project licences to carry out experiments on animals even though there is a legal obligation to use modern alternatives wherever possible. This raises serious concerns about the way animal research is regulated.

Despite the increase in animal use, Animal Free Research UK believes patients and the public must take heart from the cutting-edge, human-specific innovative research methods being developed, and widely used, around the world, such as those demonstrated at the charity’s Modernising Medical Research Science Conference in Birmingham this week  – June 28-29.

Dr Bailey added: “These New Approach Methodologies can replace the use of animals and are much more likely to generate the breakthroughs that patients so urgently need.”

He said the UK Government must step in and take decisive action to support and accelerate this move towards human relevant innovation.

He added: “As a first meaningful step, it must appoint a Minister for Human Relevant Science to champion the transformation of medical research for the benefit of both people and animals.”





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