Preclinical animal studies: bad experiments cost lives

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  • Format Texts
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Further education
  • EBM Stage 3 - Appraising evidence
  • Duration <5 mins
  • Difficulty Intermediate

Key Concepts addressed


This blog explains that, in about 500 therapies reported to successfully treat stroke in animal experiments, only 2 have been effective in humans. Unfortunately, we find a similar problem in many areas of medicine. The blog describes two possible explains for this: 1) that diseases in animals are biologically different from the disease in humans. This would mean we cannot rely on animal testing when trying to discover treatments for human diseases.;2) the way in which research is carried out may be flawed. A poorly carried out study will be unreliable. It explains that publication bias might be one issue within this – scientists are under pressure to report positive results more than negative ones, often meaning that negative results go unpublished.

The blog then describes a study from the CAMARADES group estimated that publication bias has led to the loss of unpublished data from 14% of animal stroke experiments. This represents information from around 3,600 animal test subjects that will never be used.

The blog then describes a possible solution to this issue: to create a central register of any experiments involving animal testing, so that negative results that previously might not have been published will be available, and unnecessary repetition of previous experiments can be avoided. Read the blog

Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) is a growing network of students from around the world, from school age to university, who are interested in learning more about evidence-based healthcare (EBH).  The network is supported by the UK Cochrane Centre.  In addition to the website, the S4BE has a Facebook group and Twitter feed. For more information, read Selena Ryan-Vigs blog which introduces Students 4 Best Evidence.


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