The importance of research animals

Animal research advances our knowledge and understanding of how humans and animals work. The use of animals allows us to:

  • study diseases

  • develop new medicines and treatments
  • test the safety of both new medicines and treatments

It is important to realise that if you have ever taken a medicine, had a blood test or kidney dialysis, you have benefited from animal research.

The use of animals in research depends on the scientific question. A lot of initial research to develop new medicines or treatments involves the use of :

  • databases

  • computer modelling
  • cells grown in culture

This can help to understand, for example, how genes might affect how a cell works. Cultured cells also allow us to screen potential “new medicines” for medicine-like activity.

Some aspects of this research may need to use tissues or organs (for example a heart or a muscle) taken from an animal. This allows for the testing of potential medicines.

Sometimes, research requires the use of whole animals. This can help find out:

  • how the body treats a medicine

  • how much of a medicine it takes to produce its medical effect
  • the safe dose

Humans and animals share many basic processes. Studies in animals can provide important information before moving into research in humans.

The Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of animals in research (3Rs)

The 3Rs, are the foundation to the UK laws regulating the use of research animals. We support the application of the 3Rs. We recognise that they are essential for ensuring high standards of animal welfare. This results in high-quality, reproducible and reliable research.