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Use of animals in medical research

The Medical Research Council policy statement.

The Medical Research Council (MRC)

The MRC considers the use of animals to be essential in biomedical research in order to better understand the living body and what goes wrong in disease, and to develop safe and effective ways of preventing or treating those diseases.

In accordance with the law, research using animals is only undertaken when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any adverse effects. Animals are used to gain a knowledge and understanding of some cell structures and physiological and pathological processes. Whilst it is acknowledged that animal models are not a perfect model for humans, the use of animals in biomedical research remains essential. Alternative techniques cannot always reproduce the complexity of a living creature.

The use of animals in medical research has made an important contribution to advances in medicine and surgery, bringing major improvements to the health of both human beings and animals.

Much basic research on physiological, pathological and therapeutic processes also requires the use of animals in experiments. Such research has provided and continues to provide the essential foundation for improvements in medical and veterinary knowledge, education and practice. Many of the developments achieved through the use of animals have also benefited farm, domestic and wild animals, helping them to live longer and healthier lives.

Research using animals will continue to be essential to make progress in developing treatments for many unsolved medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, AIDS, other infectious diseases and cancer; and genetic, developmental, neurological and psychiatric conditions for the foreseeable future.

You can also access all of the MRC’s guidance, policy documents and publications on the use of animals in research.

The MRC’s policy statement

The MRC will only support biomedical and veterinary research using animals in the UK providing:

  • it is fully compliant with current Home Office legislation
  • it has been approved by a local ethics committee
  • it has been successfully independently peer reviewed and
  • due consideration has been given to the replacement, refinement or reduction of the animals in the experiment and no viable non-animal alternatives exist.

Research involving animals on the Medical Research Council website

The University of Edinburgh Animal Research