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ALS Worldwide
April 24, 2017

Are Animal Models Still Effective For Treating Human Diseases?

Scientists are reevaluating the use of animal studies for treating diseases like ALS.

“Potential new drugs often fail, when tested in people. These failures are both disappointing and drive up the cost of developing new medications. Most new drugs are first tested in mice, rats, or other animals, and such animal studies frequently show great promise.

These scientists are rethinking animal studies and their applicability to human health. ‘Rats and humans have been on their own evolutionary paths for millions of years. We've developed our own unique features, and so have rodents. It should come as no surprise that a drug which works in a mouse often doesn't work in a person.’” Read the full article at http://www.npr.org/…/drugs-that-work-in-mice-often-fail-whe….

ALS Worldwide’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. James Bennett explains this line of scientific reasoning is directly applicable to human neurodegeneration conditions, including ALS. “To date, results in mouse models of ALS have yet to yield drugs that are effective in humans. The animal models based on expressing faulty human genes may not be relevant to the human condition, which in ALS, occurs sporadically in 90% or more. Animal experiments may be poorly designed, drugs may not be given in adequate amounts, or people may have different molecular triggers that yield clinical similarity but require different therapies,” says Dr. Bennett.

“It might be time to move beyond expensive, problematic animal models of human disease. The availability of human-induced cell lines is driving new approaches with great promise. Patient communities should insist on more than animal evidence of effectiveness, before agreeing to participate in any future drug trials.”

*Photo of rat holding facility at Hazelton Laboratories in Washington, D.C. in 1967, courtesy of Fox Photos/Getty Images.