Animal research, which is not the same as animal testing, is the study of animals for scientific and medical discovery. This ranges from studying wildlife to developing treatments for diseases in lab animals and pets. Animal research can help scientists save animals from extinction, develop veterinary treatments for pets and livestock, and improve the lives of animals and humans through vaccinations and treatments for diseases like cancer.
There are many species that play a roll in animal research including rodents, zebra fish, dogs and so many more. Each of these animals has contributed to many of the medical advancements we have today. From prescription drugs to surgeries and everything in between, each species has played a significant role in our current understanding of human and animal health.
To learn more about the species of animal research keep scrolling.
Studying mouse or rat genes provides better understanding of how human genetics affect disease. This is important because many new therapies and medicines work by targeting specific genes in the body. Scientists can use their knowledge of genetics to recreate human diseases in mice like cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and autism. For example, they can model human breast cancer in mice to study the disease and test treatments. This ability and understanding has revolutionized medical research and opened many doors to finding revolutionary treatments and hopefully, cures.
Human medicine would not be where it is today without the incredible contributions of these small yet mighty animals. To learn more about rodents in research check out our fact sheet found here.
Cats tend to be independent and aloof, so much so they often seem quite mysterious. However, cats have helped scientists to solve medical mysteries and increased our knowledge of conditions that continue to plague humans as well as cats and other species.
Cats have been a mainstay in research studies of neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases and the immune system. In particular, they have been valuable models for understanding the function of the neuron (nerve cell), the chemical transmission of nerve impulses, and the functional organization of the brain. To learn more about cats in research check out our fact sheet found here.
The close relationship between dogs and people may predate recorded history. One of the most significant results of our partnership with dogs has been their contribution to our understanding of disease, and how to prevent and cure it. In fact, dogs and people get many of the same diseases – from heart disease to cancer. For example, dogs have contributed to research for immunotherapy for cancers that affect both dogs and humans, like bone cancer. What we can glean from studying dogs in medical and scientific research often yields treatments that help not only people, but also dogs themselves. To learn more about dogs in research check out our fact sheet found here.
Nonhuman primates (NHPs) are so genetically similar to people (up to 98%) that they show, unlike any other animal, how diseases work in the human body.
NHPs, mostly monkeys, are the bridge between smaller animals and people. 95 percent of animal research is conducted with rats and mice. But they can only tell us so much. Once a disease or drug is understood in smaller species, it’s often then studied in monkeys. Monkeys are more predictive of how a disease acts or how a treatment will work in people. Primate research has led to medical devices, treatments, advancements and cures that have saved and improved millions of lives. Research with NHPs has contributed to discoveries like the Polio vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine, HIV/AIDS medications and many more. To learn more about NHPs in research check out our fact sheet found here.
Zebra fish, Guinea pigs, and other animals
Rabbits, guinea pigs, fruit flies, zebra fish and worms make up about 4 percent of animals in research. These animals have made enormous contributions to understanding the cause, treatment and prevention of many complex diseases. Many of our prescription medications, lifesaving procedures, and many other treatments were developed with the help of these animals.
These animals and many more have contributed to live saving research. If you’d like to learn more about common health issues and the animal research that has brought us medications and treatments, check out our medical advancements page.