Introduction: APS and Animal Research

The APS supports the humane use of animals in medical research. Medical research is beneficial to humans as well as other animals, and certain kinds of questions can only be answered through animal studies. Physiologists study the organs and systems of the body and therefore rely heavily on animal models for their research. Researchers can and do answer many important questions through research using molecules, genes, cells, and computers. But to see how the body as a whole is affected, there must also be animal studies.

Medical and scientific experts agree that whole-animal studies are essential to medical progress.

The APS believes that animal research should be conducted humanely, and that such research itself is the most humane response to human suffering from disease. It would be unethical to experiment on human patients by administering drugs or other treatments without reasonable grounds to believe the therapy will help them. Animal research makes it possible to study a disease in a controlled environment (i.e., in animals whose bodies resemble humans in relevant ways) in order to understand what happens and to test whether a new treatment is likely to be safe and effective.

The APS also believes that both research and the care of laboratory animals must take place according to the highest legal and ethical standards. The Society also seeks every opportunity to support and promote these standards. For example, all APS journals insist that research findings involving animal subjects must conform to the relevant standards for humane care and use of animals in order to be published. In addition, the APS believes that the study of living systems is an essential component of physiology instruction.

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