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Animals remain a key research tool

Published 10/02/2016

Contrary to Calum Proctor's letter (February 3), the use of animals has been an invaluable tool for research to find treatments for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, stroke and cystic fibrosis.

It is illegal to use an animal in research if there is any other way of doing that research, so universities are carrying out research using animals because organs-on-chips and computer modelling cannot yet replace animals.

Universities are investigating ways to reduce, replace and refine the use of animals and the Government-run NC3Rs spends millions every year funding such research.

Experiments must pass an ethical review before they proceed and animal welfare is a priority and painkillers and anaesthetics are used. Rodents are the most commonly used animal and over half of procedures relate to the breeding of genetically altered mice.

While there is no universal "cure for cancer", as such, animal research has given us a huge number of treatments which have increased both the number of people getting the "all-clear" and the 10-year survival rate across a number of different cancers.

Thanks to research using rats and mice, the 10-year survival rate for women with breast cancer, for instance, has increased from 40% in 1980 to 75% today. This is not research that should be abandoned.

HANNAH HOBSON

Understanding Animal Research

Belfast Telegraph

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