Animal research is largely unrecognized and myths abound, but detailed information is publicly available. In the UK cosmetics cannot be tested on animals and animals cannot be used for any research if an alternative can be used instead.
Animals are used in many ways in the laboratory alongside non-animal tools such as computer programs, human tissue studies, and others. in vitro methods. Categorizing how animals are used will always be an oversimplification, but major animal uses include basic research into how biological systems work, genetic reproduction experiments, testing of potential medical or veterinary approaches, safety testing, conservation work, etc.
For example, animals were used discover mRNA vaccines in basic research in the early 2000s, then again develop Covid-specific vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and finally conduct safety and efficacy tests on finished vaccines before clinical trials in humans.
All animal experiments are governed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, which requires experiments to be ethically reviewed, and governs a unit of the Home Office that processes licenses and inspects researchers and facilities of research.
Detailed statistics of the experiments are posted on gov.uk, including plain English descriptions of the experiments. https://www.gov.uk/business-and-industry/animal-research-and-testing
Animals in drug development
Animals are used at various stages of the drug development process, such as discovering medical approaches, testing hypotheses, and ultimately testing drugs. In regulatory testing, human drugs are cleared on the basis of tests on humans called clinical trials. However, before the first round of human testing takes place, a limited number of animals must be used to try to remove dangerous compounds in preclinical testing.
Hazardous compounds are common. About 35-40% of potential drugs fail preclinical testing. Conversely, if a compound is safe for animals, it is generally found to be safe in stage 1 clinical trials. This is not intended to “predict” what will happen if a drug is taken by millions of people. people but, when combined with data from non-animal methods, is used to justify a compound tested in a phase 1 human trial.
Finding alternatives to animals in research is a national priority, and the UK is home to a center for reducing animal numbers, refining experiments and replacing animals with new methods.
Once an alternative is validated as suitable, the Home Office will no longer issue a license for animal work that could be replaced by the alternative. The new technology will also be exportable abroad.