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UK Government Announces Plan To End The Forced Swim Test

Published on March 7, 2024

We are very encouraged to learn that the Government plans to end the use of the Forced Swim Test. This particularly outdated and distressing test involves placing mice or rats in a container of water from which they cannot escape. Dating back to the late 1970s, it has historically been used as a model of depression in humans, and to screen potential new antidepressant drugs. Scientific evidence now shows that the test is neither a useful model of depression, nor a reliable tool for predicting whether new antidepressants will be safe and effective for human patients.

We’re really grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to advocate for this progress including our colleagues at PETA who have led a high-profile campaign. We’re glad to have contributed, including submitting rigorous evidence to the Animals in Science Committee’s inquiry, supporting MPs to table parliamentary questions and adding a more personal perspective via our blog.

Since the test causes significant suffering to animals, fails to provide human-relevant results, and is not required by regulators, there is nothing standing in the way of an immediate end to its use, regardless of the replacement methods available. There are, in fact, a growing number of exciting, non-animal approaches, from organ-on-a-chip to AI, which provide a much better chance of securing breakthroughs in mental health research. We look forward to working with ministers and parliamentarians across the political spectrum to provide expert advice about these cutting-edge technologies, embracing a more ethical and human-specific approach to medical research.

 

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