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EU Parliament event on animal research

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

Scientists gave a strong defence of the vital need to use animals in research, at a European Parliament workshop last week, which discussed the implications of the EP vote to phase it out. The meeting of STOA (European Parliament Science & Technology Options Assessment) started with a strong message from Marie Leptin, President of the European Research Council, who said rather than looking at the threat to Europe’s position in science and development, ‘what we have to balance animal suffering against, for me it has to be human suffering’. EARA Board member Ana Isabel Moura Santos, of Nova Medical School, Lisbon, Portugal, said animal models remain essential to study disease. ‘If full replacement is to be achieved, it will not be through popular petitions, regulations, deadlines or legal decisions, but through scientific developments.’ Ana Isabel said that 3Rs research funding should therefore be directed not only towards replacement, but equally towards dissemination on recent refinement methods. Bart Haagmans, of the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands, reminded the audience that the development of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines, (Pfizer-BionNTech and Moderna), were ‘fuelled by animal research’. He also pointed out that the drug hydroxychloroquine - advocated by President Trump to treat Covid - had worked when tested in cells and in vitro, ‘but didn't work in humans - this was also confirmed when tested in animals’. But Peter Loskill, of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany, said: “We can't end animal research today, but we have to change habits to bring down animal model numbers. We need to advance alternatives, introduce benchmarking and disseminate information.” This echoes a similar remark by Maurice Whelan, of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL-ECVAM). Speaking at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum earlier this month, he said that focusing only on replacement ‘limits what we can achieve and backs us into a corner’.



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