End to testing on animals not yet achievable
Julia Baines (Write Back, May 14) and I agree that some fantastic progress has been made in developing alternatives to using animals in scientific research.
The UK has a National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, which the Government and the pharmaceutical industry fund significantly.
We are in a position to be able to develop cosmetics without testing them on animals, and cosmetic testing was banned in 1998 in the UK. This is because we have amassed a huge database of the effects of cosmetic ingredients on skin and eyes and so we can be reasonably confident that new cosmetics using new mixtures of existing ingredients will not harm us.
But the new substances being trialled to see if they can cure cancer, Alzheimer's, muscular dystrophy, malaria, Ebola and so on, need to be safety-tested.
These are new chemical entities that we are talking about - they cannot, by law, be given to human volunteers until they have been tested in at least two species of mammal.
Julia Baines cannot argue against the fact that practically every medicine that we, or our pet, or farm, animals take has been developed and tested using animals. We all hope that, one day, there will be alternatives for all aspects of animal research, but we are not there yet.
Julia Baines wants us to stop medical research until alternatives to animals are discovered. Personally, I do not want to tell people with currently incurable diseases that nobody is searching for treatments for them, because they are not allowed to use animals. If we want medical progress, animal research remains necessary.
Understanding Animal Research