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Posted: Aug 03, 2015

Are animal models still essential to biological research?

(Nanowerk News) The use of animals in scientific research prompts regular debate and it can be difficult to garner a clear picture of the actual need for animal models.
In the article published in Future Science OA ("Animal models are essential to biological research: issues and perspectives"), Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Xavier Montagutelli attempt to clarify this important issue, explaining why animal models are still essential to biological research. Barré-Sinoussi, who won the Nobel Prize for her co-discovery of HIV and is director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Division at the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France), spoke at the recent European Commission hearing regarding the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) "Stop Vivisection". Montagutelli is head of the animal facilities at Institut Pasteur.
"Basic research and development of new cures for human and animal diseases have made tremendous progress and saved millions of lives thanks to studying various animal models," commented Montagutelli. "We will never be able to replace all of them with alternative methods, but we have to work hard on making them more predictable for humans, while protecting animal welfare. Europe has put this direction very high on its agenda."
In the opinion piece, the authors discuss why replacement of animal models with in vitro research is still a distant prospect, and the ethical issues involved with animal research. They then go on to explain the need for an improvement in our understanding and use of animal models, to reduce incidences of animal research not translating to success with humans. They also go on to clarify current EU regulation in this arena.
Francesca Lake, Managing Editor, commented: "The use of animals in research is a constant area of debate. This work attempts to allay some of the confusion surrounding the issues in this area, and we hope it will provoke constructive discussion around the future of animal research."
Source: Future Science Group
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