Europeans for Medical Advancement welcomes the new medical research facility at Cambridge ("Hackles rise over lab plan", THES , August 31) provided it uses the very best in established and new research technologies.
However, if the new centre will be installing laboratory animal populations for research and development, efficacy or toxicity testing, then it will not be the new and innovative "science-based" medical research facility that Cambridge claims it will be. Using animal models is not scientific.
Science dictates certain fundamental prerequisites - "predictability" is one of them.
The animal model does not predict the human response. It leads to numerous adverse drug reactions in humans and false leads that serve to delay progress, harm patients and volunteers and give false hope to those waiting for cures. Above all, it wastes valuable research funding.
How many times do we see reported "new medical breakthrough found in x lab animal" and that eventually turn out to be false-hope stories generally leading to nothing.
It was reported in January of this year that over the past 15 years the entire pharmaceuticals industry had brought a mere 137 products to market, yet some 1,900 products had failed their clinical trials, despite the billions poured into their development.
We were told last month in a report by the Animal Procedures Committee that it is estimated that only one in 100 drugs entering clinical trials reaches the market, at an average cost of $600 million each.
Someone needs to do their sums.
We no longer live in the 19th century. Medical science is now studied on the molecular and cellular level, which is where disease occurs and, importantly, where species differences present. Instead of wasting millions on animal experiments that yield appallingly low returns, let us have a new medical research centre at Cambridge where neurological diseases are studied with real expectation of finding cures using science-based methodologies and new technologies that are the foundation of good medical research.
Europeans for Medical Advancement (Questioning Animal Models in Medical Research)