Resource Central

Neurology Now
January/February 2010
Volume 6(1)
p 33
Back to top

Animals in Biomedical Research

In recognition of the need for the appropriate and humane use of animals in research, the American Academy of Neurology endorses and supports the appropriate and responsible use of animals as experimental subjects.

Figure. No caption available.

Click here to enlarge

Most scientists and philosophers take the ethical position that animal testing in the pursuit of medical progress is desirable, as long as animal suffering is minimized. However, a range of viewpoints exist—on the use of animals in research and on the notion of “animal rights.” For example, the (retired) philosopher Tom Regan asserts that animals have moral rights, though he also argues that to save human lives it is permissible to kill animals. Bernard Rollin, a professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University, asserts that any benefits to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering.

Scientists and governments state that animal testing should cause as little suffering to animals as possible, and that animal tests should only be performed where necessary. In many labs, the guiding principles for the use of animals in research are “The Three Rs”:

1. REPLACEMENT refers to the preferred use of non-animal methods over animal methods whenever it is possible to achieve the same scientific aim.

2. REDUCTION refers to methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.

3. REFINEMENT refers to methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals still used.

For Further Reading

▸ aan.com/go/science/animals : You can read the AAN's position statement on the use of animals in neurological research, listen to a podcast about the topic, and find other resources here.

▸ Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, Regarding Animals. Temple University Press, 1996. Arluke is an anthropologist who researches the culture and ethics of animal use in biomedicine. For this book, he worked in clinics, shelters, and laboratories, cleaning cages, assisting in surgery, and participating in animal experiments.

▸ Russell W. M. S. and R. L. Burch. The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques. Methuen, 1958. This seminal book, by scientists William Russell and Rex Burch, first proposed the “The Three Rs.”

▸ Smith, Richard. “Animal Research: The Need for a Middle Ground.” British Medical Journal, February 3, 2001, pp. 248–249. Richard Smith, M.D., former editor of the British Medical Journal, argues in this article that polarized positions oversimplify current public discussion on the issue.

Assistance Directory

For a full listing of patient organizations, go toneurologynow.com

HELP FOR ALL NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS

American Academy of Neurology Foundation aan.com/go/foundation 1-800-879-1960

AAN Website (For doctors and patients) AAN.com

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke ninds.nih.gov

Well Spouse Association wellspouse.org 1-800-838-0879

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

Alzheimer's Association alz.org 1-800-272-3900

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center alzheimers.org 1-800-438-4380

Alzheimer's Foundation of America alzfdn.org 1-866-232-8484

Association for Frontotemporal Dementias FTD-Picks.org 1-866-507-7222

AUTISM

Autism Society of America autism-society.org 1-800-3AUTISM (1-800-328-8476)

Autism Speaks, Inc. autismspeaks.org 212-252-8584

Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership grasp.org 1-888-474-7277

BRAIN TUMOR

American Brain Tumor Association abta.org 1-800-886-2282

National Brain Tumor Society Braintumor.org 1-800-934-2873

CEREBRAL PALSY

United Cerebral Palsy ucp.org 1-800-872-5827

DYSTONIA

Dystonia Foundation dystonia-foundation.org 1-800-377-DYST (1-800-377-3978)

Spasmodic Torticollis spasmodictorticollis.org 1-888-445-4588

EPILEPSY AND SEIZURES

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) CUREepilepsy.org 312-255-1801

Epilepsy Foundation epilepsyfoundation.org 1-800-332-1000

HEADACHE/MIGRAINE

National Headache Foundation headaches.org 1-888-NHF-5552 (1-888-643-5552)

Migraine Research Foundation migraineresearchfoundation.org 212-249-5402

Huntington's Disease

Hereditary Disease Foundation hdfoundation.org 212-928-2121

Huntington's Disease Society of America hdsa.org 1-800-345-HDSA (1-800-345-4372)

HYDROCEPHALUS

Hydrocephalus Association hydroassoc.org ; 1-888-598-3789

National Hydrocephalus Foundation nhfonline.org 1-888-857-3434

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

MSFriends msfriends.org 1-877-MSFRIENDS

MSWorld msworld.org

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America msassociation.org , 1-800-532-7667

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation msfocus.org 1-800-225-6495

National Multiple Sclerosis Society nationalmssociety.org 1-800-FIGHT-MS (1-800-344-4867)

MYASTHENIA GRAVIS

Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America myasthenia.org 1-800-541-5454

NEUROMUSCULAR DISEASES

ALS Association alsa.org 1-800-782-4747

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association charcot-marie-tooth.org 610-499-9264 1-800-606-CMTA (2682)

Kennedy's Disease Association kennedysdisease.org 559-658-5950

Moebius Syndrome Foundation moebiussyndrome.com 1-660-834-3406

Muscular Dystrophy Association mda.org 1-800-FIGHT-MD (1-800-344-4863)

Neuropathy Association neuropathy.org ; 212-692-0662

Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, Inc. sp-foundation.org ; 1-877-773-4483

PAIN

American Pain Foundation painfoundation.org 1-888-615-PAIN (1-888-615-7246)

Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorders

American Parkinson Disease Association apdaparkinson.org 1-800-223-2732

International Essential Tremor Foundation essentialtremor.org 1-888-387-3667

Lewy Body Dementia Association lbda.org

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research michaeljfox.org ; 1-800-708-7644

National Ataxia Foundation ataxia.org 763-553-0020

National Parkinson Foundation parkinson.org 1-800-327-4545

Parkinson's Disease Foundation pdf.org 1-800-457-6676

Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy curepsp.org 1-800-457-4777

SLEEP

National Sleep Foundation sleepfoundation.org 202-347-3471

STROKE

American Stroke Association strokeassociation.org 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653)

National Stroke Association stroke.org 1-800-787-6537

TOURETTE SYNDROME

Tourette Syndrome Association tsa-usa.org 718-224-2999

TRAUMA

Brain Injury Association of America biausa.org 1-800-444-6443

Back to top