Harrow East MP urges the government to support Animal-free research


Harrow East MP, Bob Blackman, has taken a stand calling on the government to urgently accelerate the development of more human relevant, animal-free research in the UK.

Bob Blackman is among over 100 cross-party MPs who have signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 256, lobbying for more financial and infrastructure support for humane, human-relevant science.

More than 3.4 million animal experiments take place annually in the UK making the country one of the most prolific animal testers globally. Yet research by Cruelty Free International revealed that just one out of an analysis of 27 ‘medical breakthroughs’ reported in the UK media, resulted in any tangible benefit to human drug discovery over the subsequent twenty years, and over 90% of drugs fail to reach the market even after they have been successfully tested in animals.

The motion was tabled by Conservative MP Sir David Amess in partnership with the Alliance for Human Relevant Science, and argues that the UK can reap proven public health, economic and business advantages by accelerating the uptake of scientific methods which are more relevant to human health.

Many major diseases remain poorly understood and lack adequate treatments because animal experiments have failed to deliver significant results over the past century. In comparison, new approach methods, which do not use animal testing, have the potential to reduce drug development failures and save costs and time.

Bob Blackman said of the matter: “Animal experiments are limited in their ability to translate to humans. Advances in science and technology are providing new research methods. We must do all we can to support their development and use.”

The motion is now backed by more than 100 MPs including former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Relevant Science, Grahame Morris MP, and SNP leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford.

Dr Jan Turner, Director of the Safer Medicines Trust said: “As a country, we should be excited and optimistic about new methodologies which represent a more human-focused approach to drug discovery. Human-induced pluripotent stem cells and ‘organs-on-chips’ for example, are revolutionary developments that can potentially identify safety and efficacy issues earlier and more reliably in the drug development process, enabling the design and selection of drug candidates that are more likely to succeed in human clinical trials. Yet we are falling behind in government support for these efforts.”

Kerry Postlewhite, Public Affairs Director of Cruelty Free International said: “Cruelty Free International is delighted to see such vast support from politicians across the UK for human-relevant science. Not only do alternative methods prevent the needless suffering of animals, but they are more likely to produce positive results in clinical settings. The sentiment of the group of cross-party MPs also reflects the mood of the nation, with polling evidence confirming that people wish to see much greater investment in animal-free research.”

Carla Owen, CEO of Animal Free Research UK said: “It is heartening to see strong, cross-party support for human relevant science. If the Government is serious about Britain becoming a science superpower, it is essential that we leave behind the outdated practice of animal experiments and embrace cutting-edge, animal free research.

“As well as being more ethical, using human relevant techniques will give us the best possible chance of making much-needed progress for patients.”