Issues Magazine

Articles about animal research

Ending Animal Research: Advancing Science and Safety While Preventing Suffering

By Katherine Groff

Unnecessary, inferior and cruel animal research and testing must be more honestly addressed in a civilised and scientifically advanced society such as ours.

Animal research is not the future of medical progress. More than 90% of medicines found to be safe and effective in animal tests fail to help humans. In many cases, medicines have resulted in serious side-effects and even death.

Animals in Research: The Fruit Fly

By Gary Hime

An enormous amount of what we know about genetics has come from research using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

More than a century of scientific research on a species of fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has placed it on a pedestal in the pantheon of organisms that have informed us of the mysteries of developmental processes and molecules that govern our own development and disease.


Learning from Animals that Learn

By Sonia Kleindorfer and Jeremy Robertson

Learning by chicks in the egg is crucial to the survival of superb fairy-wrens, and has the power to change our perception of other species.

Our capacity to wonder and to communicate that wonder sets us apart from many animals. But when does communication about the external world begin?

The BirdLab at Flinders University recently discovered that communication occurs before birth, at least in some birds, and that it is crucial for survival. We found that female superb fairy-wrens teach their unhatched embryos a unique acoustic element that is the basis of their begging call.

Alternatives to Animal Experimentation: An Australian Approach

By Sharyn Watson

Developing medical research methodologies that don’t involve experiments on animals reduces suffering for all species – human and non-human.

Graduates are increasingly concerned with the ethical dilemmas they face when using animals in their research projects. They are among an increasing number of medical scientists attempting to replace animals wherever possible, in line with the National Health and Medical Research Council Code of Practice.

Animal Ethics Committees: Gatekeepers of Animal Research

 Source: (CC by 2.0)

Macaque monkeys used for research in an animal testing laboratory. Monkeys are socially housed and have play toys for environmental enrichment. Source: (CC by 2.0)

By Lynette Chave and Peter Johnson

Animal ethics committees are a way for the community to participate in decision-making about the care and use of animals in research.

What types of activity come to mind at the mention of animal research? Many people might think of monkeys with skull implants, dogs undergoing surgery or rabbits having substances put in their eyes. In reality, the scope of what constitutes “animal research”, and the laws that govern this in Australia, are much broader, and the typical images much rarer.

Animals in research: mice

By Michael Dobbie, Ruth Arkell and Stuart Read

Mice are the most important model organisms used in medical research.

Our series, Animals in Research, profiles the top organisms used for science experimentation. Here, we look at a species familiar to most: Mus musculus, or the mouse.

Mice have been close companions of humans for millennia but often in competition for food. Indeed, the word “mouse” is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit verb “mūṣ” meaning “to steal”.

Animals in Research: Zebrafish

By Joan Heath

Zebrafish research is now carried out in at least 600 laboratories worldwide, including 20 in Australia.

Zebrafish are probably not the first creatures that come to mind when it comes to animals that are valuable for medical research.

You might struggle to imagine you have much in common with this small tropical freshwater fish, though you may be inclined to keep a few “zebra danios” in your home aquarium, given they are hardy, undemanding animals that cost only a few dollars each.