36183 - Animal Experiments (Answered)

Patrick Grady
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will issue a response to Early Day Motion 373, Applying Results of Experiments on Animals to Human Patients.

George Freeman

The Government considers that the carefully regulated use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving the understanding of how biological systems work and in the development of safe new medicines, treatments and technologies.

At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs), in particular through funding for the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), and also through ongoing UK-led efforts to encourage greater global uptake of the 3Rs.

Advances in biomedical science and technologies – including stem cell research, in vitro systems that mimic the function of human organs, imaging and new computer modelling techniques – are all providing new opportunities to reduce reliance on the use of animals in research. As part of this Innovate UK, the NC3Rs, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council have produced a Non-animal Technologies Road map for the UK, which offers an approach for the UK to develop, exploit and deploy new non-animal technologies for long-term economic and societal benefit. Integral to this strategy have been two Innovate UK industry-led competitions which have awarded approximately £7m in grant funding; “Developing non-animal technologies” and “Advancing the development and application of non-animal technologies”.

EU and UK law requires safety testing on animals before human trials for new medicines can begin and animal research still plays an important role in providing vital safety information for potential new medicines.

The Early Day Motion (EDM 373) rightly draws attention to the UK life science sector’s Concordat on openness in animal research which was launched last year, and provides new opportunities for transparency and debate in this area.