Animal Rights
Animal Rights

New Book Review of “Animal Models in Light of Evolution”

| by Dr Ray Greek

Lewis Wolpert has written a review of Animal Models in Light of Evolution in the journal Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. It can be accessed here. The reviews final formatting will be up soon. (Check the Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine web site for the final format.)

From the abstract:

Animal Models in the Light of Evolution provides persuasive evidence that animal models should be used with great caution when applying the results to human diseases. Mice and other model animals are both similar and different, in their biology, to humans.

The review then summarizes what Wolpert views and the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

The following is also from the review: Lewis Wolpert is Emeritus Professor in the Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology of University College, London. He originally took a degree in civil engineering and carried out research in soil mechanics, and then changed to cell biology at King's College. He has worked on the mechanics of cytokinesis, morphogenesis of the sea urchin embryo, regeneration in hydra, left right asymmetry, and has focused on pattern formation in limb development. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has also been involved in interacting with the public in relation to science.

I sincerely thank Dr Wolpert and Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine for this excellent review. The review is balanced but essentially agrees with us that animals are differently complex and thus extrapolation is fraught with difficulties. The fact that someone of Dr Wolpert’s stature would review the book is significant. The first line of the review states:

Animal Models in the Light of Evolution provides persuasive evidence that animal models should be used with great caution when applying the results to human diseases. Mice and other model animals are both similar and different, in their biology, to humans. It is rather technical and not easy reading.

I hope the reader will read the entire review. While Wolpert does find faults with the book, on balance the review is very much in our favor and agrees with our fundamental position. I believe this review will cause many people to read Animal Models in Light of Evolution and rethink their support of using animals as predictive models.