The open access journal ‘Animals’ is running a Special Issue guest edited by Pandora Pound of Safer Medicines. The topic for the Special Issue is ‘Are Animal Models Needed to Discover, Develop and Test Pharmaceutical Drugs for Humans in the 21st Century?’ Original manuscripts that address this question are invited for the Special Issue. The deadline is May 15th 2020. More information can be found here: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/animals/special_issues/animal_models_2020
Background to call for papers
Despite many decades of research, much of which has focused on studies in animals, humans continue to suffer from diseases and illnesses for which there are no cures or treatments. It is now clear that insights provided by animal studies do not often translate to humans, explaining the very high failure rate observed when new medicines are evaluated in human clinical trials. In addition, there is increasing evidence that animal studies are frequently conducted so poorly that no clear conclusions may be drawn from them. Some claim that if only the quality of animal studies was improved, and animal models were made to more faithfully capture the relevant human disease, then these models would begin to translate and deliver clinical benefits. Others argue that research focusing on humans is necessary to gain a better understanding of human disease and to develop safe and effective drug treatments.These scientists point to developments in human biology during the last decade that have yielded in vitro and in silico techniques capable of providing novel insights into human disease mechanisms, as well as human-relevant disease models for developing and testing drug treatments for humans. A key question is whether there is value in refining animal models, or whether these should be relinquished in favour of new, human-focused research approaches.
A chapter on the problem with animal models has just been published in the Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics, by Pandora Pound from Safer Medicines. The handbook is intended as a resource for philosophers and the chapter on animal models aims to bring readers up to date with developments in the field. It discusses recent evidence relating to weaknesses in the design, conduct and reporting of animal studies and explores how these weaknesses raise significant doubts about the validity of animal study findings and their translation to humans. The chapter argues that the evidence relating to poor scientific conduct and lack of human relevance challenges the existing ethical frameworks that govern animal research, such as the harm-benefit assessment. The hope is that this chapter will provide philosophers with the evidence necessary to develop a reinvigorated and updated ethics of animal research. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Animal-Ethics-1st-Edition/Fischer/p/book/9781138095069
On November 6 2019, Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga, Professor of Evidence-Based Laboratory Animal Science at SYRCLE (Systematic Review Center for Laboratory (animal) Experimentation www.syrcle.nl) in the Netherlands, was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a civil and military Dutch order of chivalry open to “everyone who has earned special merits for society”. This honour, bestowed upon Professor Ritskes-Hoitinga following her inspirational inaugural lecture at the University (highly recommended reading), comes after 30 years of improving the quality of animal research in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and dedicating herself to developing systematic review* methodology in the field of preclinical research.
Dr Azra Raza, Professor of Medicine at Columbia University in New York, international authority on leukaemia, and Science Adviser to Safer Medicines Trust, has written a remarkable and highly recommended new book published in October 2019: The First Cell: And the human costs of pursuing cancer to the last
In amongst highly moving stories of her patients, including her own husband, Dr Raza explains why the global cancer research effort should make two major changes of direction:
1) to focus on prevention and early detection, to find the first malignant cell instead of attacking late-stage disease; and
2) to focus research exclusively on humans and their tissues, rather than on mice, rats and other futile animal models.
To that end, she has founded the First Cell Center, to study her tissue repository of more than 60,000 samples collected from her patients over the past 35 years.
Many articles and interviews are available from https://azraraza.com. This video: Early Footprint and this news article: Here’s why we’re losing the war on cancer, according to this doctor are a great place to start, along with this powerful and moving 13-minute TEDx Talk from 2014.