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While COVID-19 is the most serious pandemic in recent history, it also brings an opportunity for modernizing research.
For the first time ever, vaccines have gone directly to human trials without waiting for the results of lengthy and deadly animal trials. Across the country, university closures prompted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have led to the mass cancellation of research projects involving animals.
This brings us to a crossroads. We can either continue "business as usual" by tormenting and killing animals in experiments that do nothing for human health, or we can embrace real science first. Which direction we choose will determine whether or not we will find treatments, cures and vaccines for the many diseases that sicken and kill us. If we can eliminate animal experiments in a time of crisis, we can do it all the time.
PETA scientists have researched the utter failure of the animal experimentation paradigm to help humans suffering from disease, and they have a plan: The Research Modernization Deal. PETA is calling on Senate and Congressional leaders to embrace this new plan and direct our federal health agencies to stop what is not working and support better methods.
The current research paradigm is a failure.
The current system is broken.
NIH has failed to take effective steps to address the following problems:
- Ninety-five percent of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animal tests fail or cause harm in human clinical trials.
- The failure rate of new drugs developed using animals in specific disease research areas exceeds 95%. Here are a few examples.
- Alzheimer's disease: 96.6%
- Cancer: 96.6%
- HIV vaccine: 100%
- Strokes: 100% (based on 1,000 new agents tested in animals in 100 clinical trials)
- Eighty-nine percent of preclinical studies, which are largely experiments on animals, can't be reproduced, even though reproducibility is a critical component of scientific research.
Consider this: 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease. But treatments that have appeared promising in mice simply haven't worked in humans. The U.S. is expected to spend $1.1 trillion on research for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by 2050—but if we stick with our current path, most of that money will be wasted on cruel and pointless animal experiments. No cure for humans is in sight.
This disastrous boondoggle throws good money after bad. Reliance on animal models is diverting funds from more promising areas of research and delaying the development of effective drugs and treatments.
The majority of Americans oppose animal experiments. A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that most Americans (52%) oppose the use of animals in experimentation. People who continue to support it assume that the harm to animals is outweighed by the benefits to humans. But now we know that animal experiments don't actually help humans.
What's the Research Modernization Deal About?
PETA's Research Modernization Deal maps out a strategy for replacing the use of animals in experiments with human-relevant methods. It includes the following:
- Eliminating the use of animals immediately in areas where they have already shown to be poor surrogates for humans
- Critically reviewing additional areas of research to determine where animal use can be phased out
- Introducing an ethical cost-benefit analysis system into U.S. policies governing the use of animals in biomedical research
- Promoting the international harmonization and acceptance of non-animal testing methods among government agencies and research bodies
- Redirecting funds from animal experiments to the development of non-animal methods
It's Time for the Research Modernization Deal!
Compassion and scientific breakthroughs aren't mutually exclusive. Good science and sound ethics can propel us toward the shared goal of better health.
What Scientists Say
"The enterprise of science prides itself on being evidence-based. However, in recent years, mounting evidence has suggested that data from animal research cannot be applied reliably or confidently to humans. PETA's 'Research Modernization Deal' distills this evidence into a short but powerful report that will help steer biomedical research along a more human-relevant and humane course."
—Rear Admiral Marion Balsam, MD, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy (RET), Former Commander Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
"Speaking as an academic physician neuropathologist researcher with over 30 years of experience in diagnosis and treatment of degenerative brain diseases, and as recognized by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease as one of the top 100 Alzheimer's disease investigators, I applaud PETA's 'Research Modernization Deal.' The report summarizes the growing body of evidence showing the failure of animal models, including those of our closest genetic relatives, to provide clinically relevant information about the etiology, progression, or treatment of human neurodegenerative diseases. Nonhuman primates do not naturally suffer human illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or Huntington 's disease. Artificially inducing pathologic mimics of human diseases in Frankenstein-like genetic animal "models" does not replicate neurodegenerative pathogenesis, and has wasted billions of research dollars. It is past time to ditch the broken animal testing paradigm and instead use modern techniques outlined in this report to directly benefit human health, save taxpayer dollars, and spare animals' lives."
—Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D., Professor and Director of Neuropathology Fellowship Program Department of Pathology, University of California San Diego School of Medicine
"As a physician and person with a fatal disease for which there is no cure, I support a plan to redirect research funding toward human studies aimed at treating human problems that are amenable to amelioration or cure and away from experiments on animals. PETA's Research Modernization Deal provides such a plan. Collating the wealth of information in the report was an extraordinary undertaking and those involved in funding medical research, namely the National Institutes of Health, would do themselves a favor by heeding PETA's call."
—Thomas J. Poulton, MD, FAAP, FACP, FCCM
"For years, we in the medical profession have been alarmed at the paucity of treatments being gleaned from research on animals. Data from other species—even our closest living relatives, chimpanzees—could not be applied to the human patient bedside. We have known that biomedical research has been long overdue for a course correction. I am delighted that PETA's 'Research Modernization Deal' offers a strategy and a blueprint for redirecting limited resources away from animal models and toward new, human-relevant research methodologies."
—Michael P. Murphy, M.D., F.A.C.S., Professor of Surgery
"PETA's Research Modernization Deal reminds us of the great costs we have endured while experiments on animals have been the dominant paradigm in biomedical research: bringing unsafe and ineffective drugs into clinical trials and sometimes to market, delaying the development of superior methods, and contributing to the suffering and death of humans and animals alike. This comprehensive and well-researched report provides a roadmap for moving into a new era where human biology is rightly the focus of human health research."
—Pradip Sahdev, MD, FACS, Vascular and General Surgery, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, Medical Director, Vascular Access Center, Brandywine, MD
"As a medical professional, I was stunned to learn how much of our federal funding is wasted on experiments that are not only unethical, but poorly conducted, potentially irreproducible, and just generally wrong for advancing human healthcare and prevention. I strongly support the strategy laid forth in PETA's 'Research Modernization Deal' to reform our nation’s investment in research."
—Cindy Tait, RN, MPH, President, Center for Healthcare Education, Inc.