Non-animal medical research is growing

August 30, 2010

As the physician who organized the conference on animal research and alternatives, I want to emphasize that scientists increasingly turn to non-animal methods for research and testing ("Alternatives to animal testing gaining ground," Aug. 27). It is widely accepted in the scientific community that physiological differences between humans and animals manifest as profound differences in disease physiology and treatment effectiveness.

Clinical, epidemiological, and pathological investigations remain the foundation of research on human disease. Animal research, on the other hand, often misleads researchers. More than 80 HIV/AIDS vaccines successful in nonhuman primates and more than 150 stroke treatments successful in various animal species have failed in human trials. Misleading animal tests have also led to dangerous drugs like Vioxx being approved by regulators. Significant ethical concerns are also raised by the use of animals in experiments – concerns that cannot be ignored.

From computer models and human-derived tissue methods to advanced imaging techniques, it's amazing what we can accomplish when we channel resources to non-animal methods. Replacement of the use of animals in research is possible – human ingenuity has already brought us many alternatives that were once thought impossible. Such groundbreaking science offers the best way to fight disease and protect human health.

Hope Ferdowsian

The writer is director of research policy for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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