The University of Cambridge has been recognised as a Leader in Openness for "the innovation and courage shown by individuals and the organisation in supporting greater openness around the use of animals in research."
Animal research plays an essential role in our understanding of health and disease and in the development of modern medicines and surgical techniques. Without the use of animals, we would not have many of the modern medicines, antibiotics, vaccines and surgical techniques that we take for granted in both human and veterinary medicine.
Some of the important and pioneering work for which Cambridge is best known and which has led to major improvements in people’s lives was only possible using animals, from the development of IVF techniques through to human monoclonal antibodies. Some of the work carried out is fundamental research, aimed at understanding how humans and animals develop and how our immune systems and brains work, for example. This knowledge is essential for underpinning our understanding of health and disease for both medical and veterinary purposes.
Other work is aimed at tackling specific diseases, for example in helping us understand how Parkinson’s disease affects the brain and motor system and how it might be tackled, or in developing new treatments for autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Animal research is only undertaken where there is no alternative. We always use the most appropriate species: in the vast majority of cases, this involves using mice, rats and zebrafish. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to use species that are closer to humans in size or development.
“Animal research remains a small but vital part of the quest for new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals. Alternative methods are gradually being phased in, but, until we have sufficient reliable alternatives available, it is important that organisations that use animals in research maintain the public’s trust in them. By providing this level of information about the numbers of animals used, and the experience of those animals, as well as details of the medical breakthroughs that derive from this research, these Concordat signatories are helping the public to make up their own minds about how they feel about the use of animals in scientific research in Great Britain.” - Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research.