Why do animal research?

Animal research has contributed to many of the medical advances we now take for granted. We've probably all benefited from vaccines and antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, and anaesthetics used in all forms of surgery. Medicines can now overcome serious conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure.

To find out more about why animal research is carried out visit Understanding Animal Research.

The Concordat on openness on animal research

We are a signatory on the Concordat on openness on animal research and encourage our member charities to be open about the research they fund that involves animals. It is good practice to do this in the scientific context of what the research has or hopes to achieve and it should be backed up with supporting material explaining why it’s required (e.g. there are no suitable non-animal alternatives).

Whether our member charities fund research using animals or whether they focus funding on other areas of medical research, all member charities stand together. We all support the principle that animals can be used in medical research where it is necessary to advance understanding of serious health conditions and to develop better treatments and where there is no alternative means of finding out that information without using animals.

No charity decides to support this sort of research lightly and we understand that supporters, staff and the public want to know why and how these decisions are made.

We’ve produced the following documents to help our member charities answer questions on animal research:

  • This leaflet aims to help charity staff answer the most common questions on the use of animals in research.
  • This guide aims to help charity staff discuss animal research with the public.

The following are examples how our member charities are being open about animal research:

We also produce an annual animal research briefing which outlines the number of grants funded by our member charities that involve animals and provides a breakdown of the types of animals used.

Supporting organisations and regulatory bodies

The Animals in Science Regulatory Unit (ASRU), which is part of the Home Office, is responsible for ensuring that research using animals is conducted within the law. This includes granting licences to each project, person and place which will conduct animal research and performing site inspections to ensure compliance with regulation.

The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of animal used in research each year.

Understanding Animal Research, a not-for-profit organisation supported by the bioscience community, provides information and educational materials about animal research.

The UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), an independent science organisations, funds innovation and technological developments that replace or reduce the need for animals in research and testing, and lead to improvements in welfare where animals continue to be used.