March 24, 2022
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) held an important webinar, “Non-Animal Models in Biomedical Research: We Aren’t There Yet,” on Wednesday, March 16th.
The panel included four biomedical researchers who provided examples of how animal models have furthered drug development and therapies that have helped increase human survival against infectious and deadly diseases and illnesses. For example, the mRNA for vaccine development against SARS-coV-2 used animal models in pre-clinical trials, eventually testing its effectiveness against Covid-19 in clinical trials. The scientists underscored the limitations, to date, of identifying effective alternative models to animal-model testing, explaining why animal testing remains essential to their research.
The researchers explained efforts to decrease the number of animals used for research. They shared that United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) use of animals has decreased by 50 percent since 1993. Additionally, regulations and committees on animal use, such as the Animal Welfare Act and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, provide oversight on animal testing.
The researchers provided the following suggestions:
• Independent review of current animal studies including housing, treatment, and research locations by unannounced visits from regulatory veterinarians.
• Invest in highly trained and qualified staff.
• Additional research, including federal grants, to identify alternatives to animal testing.
• Share data across companies, comparing notes with academia, model developers, and regulators.
Animal use in research has been a topic of discussion in Congress as well (see previous FABBS coverage here). FABBS will continue to educate the public and legislative offices about the importance of the ethical use of animal models in the behavioral and brain sciences.