On the 26th of February 2013 a study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that gained significant international media coverage the likes of which such scientific review studies rarely obtain.
The study got the coverage due to its conclusion that artificially inducing a model of a disease in a mouse and curing that doesn't give a cure to a naturally occurring disease in a human. This was shocking news to many in the medical research establishment despite it being exactly what doctors and scientists opposed to vivisection had been saying for decades.
The study was initiated after researchers wondered why every single one of the 150 cures developed that succeeded in mice for the often fatal inflammatory disease sepsis failed in humans.
Mice are used to model sepsis and other inflammatory diseases in humans, and have been for decades, despite studies evaluating how well they mimic the human disease being non-existent.
Decades of research has gone wasted because the researchers used a testing system that had never been shown to work!
This study makes some very important points and reiterates what anti-vivisectionists have been saying all along:
- Animal models can't be used to predict human response
- Drugs that are unsafe and useless in humans pass animal trials successfully
- Many potentially successful treatments have likely been ignored as they didn't cure mice
- The animal research industry repeats its errors without looking at the animal research methods it is based on objectively and critically
- Studying diseases in patients may be more difficult than using animals but it works
- Using animal trials costs human lives as people die while researchers waste resources curing mice and not people
- Non-animal trials are what produce useful results and save people's lives.
The study authors go on to note that they only looked at the use of mice as a model in one area but that the implications for other research areas are obvious and that this sort of review into the effectiveness of animal models needs to be done in all areas.
In particular they say that cancer researchers need to recognise the ineffectiveness of the mouse model as they also heavily rely on it. Again this is something anti-vivisectionists have been saying for decades; hopefully the message that animal models can't mimic human disease is finally sinking in and the constant waste of research resources and lives that relying on animal models causes ends; and ends quickly for the sake of people and animals.
The New York Times reported that the researchers that compiled the data and wrote the paper also found it very difficult to get the information published. It was rejected by major journals even though the reviewers that rejected it could not point out any scientific errors.
Dr Davis from the research team said "½the most common response was, 'It has to be wrong. I don't know why it is wrong, but it has to be wrong.'" But it wasn't wrong and because of scientists refusing to accept the data in front of them publication took longer than it should have.
A researcher summed it up in the NY Times: "This is a very important paper," said Dr Richard Hotchkiss, a sepsis researcher at Washington University who was not involved in the study. "It argues strongly -- go to the patients. Get their cells. Get their tissues whenever you can. Get cells from airways. To understand sepsis, you have to go to the patients."
References "Genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases", Seok, Warren, Cuenca et al; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Feb. 26, 2013; vol. 110 no. 9 pg. 3511. "Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Some of Humans' Deadly Ills", The New York Times, Feb. 11, 2013