Of mice and men

April 30, 2004

Colin Blakemore claims animal research will produce cures for our illnesses (Features, April 23), yet decades of research on animals have not produced a single cure.

As Cliff Leaf points out: "Many cancer treatments that work in mice don't work in humans - just as importantly - some of those that don't work in mice could work in man." Pathologist Alistair Burt says: "There are always problems with animal models because they don't mimic what happens in humans."

Mr Blakemore also contradicts himself. In a Sunday Times interview (March 21), he states that future medicine will treat the patient rather than the disease, embracing diet and lifestyle. If this had been used earlier, we could well have solutions to many of today's medical problems. In the words of Richard Sullivan of Cancer Research UK: "More and more we talk about man as the model. Animals are a dirty guide."

Marlene Thompson

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