The ABC supports the use of animals in research. This research has played a critical role in nearly every major medical advance of the last century. From the development of life saving medications, to better diagnosis and prevention techniques, the knowledge generated through this research is essential to both human and animal health. Research on animals has not only saved lives and money but also improved health and reduced suffering. In order to treat and cure disorders of the brain, continued research using animal models to study complex functions of the living nervous system is necessary. While some animal models may be as simple as worms or flies, more complex models such as rodents, dogs and primates are necessary to model some human disease—particularly brain disease.
A Model of the Brain is Necessary
The ABC seeks to advance the understanding of the brain and to reduce the burden of disabling brain disorders. The use of animals in research is essential for accomplishing this goal. For many human illnesses, the affected organ can be probed, biopsied and excised for treatment and study. In general, the brain cannot be examined directly during life, except for rare instances during neurosurgical procedures. For most behavioral disorders, there is often no clearly abnormal part of the brain that can be removed and studied. Thus, animal models are critical for understanding normal brain function. In fact, there are numerous specific examples of how the study of brain and nerve cell function in animals has aided the development of treatment for brain-related illnesses.
The ABC also strongly supports the specific laws and regulations that ensure the humane treatment and safety of animals utilized in studies or trials. Researchers follow strict guidelines relating to standards for handling, housing, watering, feeding, sheltering and ventilation of experimental animals. Additionally, institutions that conduct research on animals are required to establish a committee to evaluate and monitor animal use procedures. Before embarking on any project that involves animals, researchers carefully evaluate whether the research and its use of that animal model is justified based on the science. If the project is deemed scientifically meritorious, researchers must receive approval from their local ethics committee to ensure that the research meets the standards set forth by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which provides oversight to animal experiments.
Medical progress could potentially be endangered if we allow the actions of animal extremists to intimidate researchers. The ABC strongly believes that policymakers should help to provide scientists and their families protection from terrorists who sponsor violent acts against those in the research community. Thus, ABC supports the Animal and Enterprise Terrorism Act, which was established to protect animal researchers and their families.
Updated by the American Brain Coalition Advocacy Committee March 2019.