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Missing mice in media coverage

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Sloppy journalism is leading to a lack of transparency on the reporting of the use of animal models in Alzheimer’s research.

A study by Humane Society International found that, if a research paper did not include the use of animals in the title, the animal was less likely to be mentioned in the media coverage, leading readers to think that the study was conducted in humans.

There was also a greater chance the study would be covered by mainstream media sources if the there was no mention of an animal model in the title of the paper.

“We need to remember that most people only read the headlines of news stories,” said lead author Dr Marcia Triunfol.

EARA communications manager, Bob Tolliday, said: “This is an interesting study, but it should also be the duty of communications officers and science journalists to read research papers carefully and include a mention of the animal models used in their press releases and media reports.”

This month, the first new Alzheimer’s drug in 20 years, Aducanumab, was approved for use in humans by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Prof Bart De Strooper, director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, told the BBC the decision to approve aducanumab marked "a hugely significant milestone" in the search for treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

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