Animal Rights

Research from Animal Testing is Misleading

| by Dr Ray Greek

In our books [1-5], we have said many times that research with animals is misleading. For example, drugs that would not have harmed humans did harm mice and were consequently not put on the market. The National Cancer Institute has stated that society may have lost cures for cancer because of animal testing. [6] Researchers working with monkey models of HIV tested a vaccine on the monkeys and subsequently gave the vaccine to humans who were harmed as a result. These examples infuriate people in the animal-based research community. The following will too.

An article by Greber et al. [7] at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster reveals that work with stem cells from mice “are often pointless -- and sometimes even misleading.”[8] This is not say mice and humans have nothing in common. Even their stem cells have things in comon. But it is the differences that are important when trying to extrapolate research results to a different species. “In other aspects, though, as scientists have known for some time now, human and mouse ES cells differ enormously. Certain signalling substances that can be used to turn mouse cells into liver, nerve or muscle cells, for instance, produce either no effect or totally different effects in human ES cells.”[8] And there are more differences.

Hans Schöler, a co-author of the study, states "Ultimately, what this means is that many preliminary tests on animal cells -- particularly in medically relevant projects -- may not only be useless, but the findings from this kind of early testing may even be misleading . . . Particularly when we're talking about developing safe and effective stem cell therapies, we will still need human ES cells as the gold standard against which to compare everything else. In such cases, lengthy preliminary testing on animal cells risks wasting valuable time and resources." [8]

Society has faith that animal testing informs scientists about humans. Such faith is misplaced.


1.  Greek J, Greek R: What Will We Do if We Don't Experiment on Animals?: Trafford; 2004.

2.  Greek R, Greek J: Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals. New York: Continuum Int; 2000.

3. Greek R, Greek J: Specious Science. New York: Continuum Int; 2002.

4. Greek R, Shanks N: FAQs About the Use of Animals in Science: A handbook for the scientifically perplexed. University Press of America; 2009.

5. Shanks N, Greek R: Animal Models in Light of Evolution. Brown Walker; 2009.

6. Gura T: Cancer Models: Systems for identifying new drugs are often faulty. Science 1997, 278:1041-1042.

7. Greber B, Wu G, Bernemann C, Joo JY, Han DW, Ko K, Tapia N, Sabour D, Sterneckert J, Tesar P, Scholer HR: Conserved and Divergent Roles of FGF Signaling in Mouse Epiblast Stem Cells and Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell, 6:215-226.

8. Deceptive model: Stem cells of humans and mice differ more strongly than suspected [ /releases/2010/03/100308095445.htm]