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Helping Animals

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Species Information

Most biomedical research involves mice and other rodents. Their small size and low cost makes them ideal for laboratory experiments. In addition, scientists can breed different strains with natural genetic deficiencies to achieve specific models of human diseases. However, a variety of other animals are occasionally used as well.

Below is a list of animals used in research, and some of the types of research they have been used in.



  • AIDS
  • Vision disorders such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), glaucoma, and cataracts
  • Studies on the spinal cord and other types of research involving the nervous system
  • Recovery from traumatic injuries and strokes
  • Gangliosidosis, a disorder that causes skeletal abnormalities and mental retardation in humans
  • Hearing disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Improved animal surgical procedures and new vaccines to prevent animal diseases

Cattle and Swine


  • Middle ear infection


  • Cardiovascular system
  • CPR techniques
  • Vision disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts
  • Digestion research
  • Therapeutic use of insulin
  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Suture and grafting of blood vessels
  • Respiratory system
  • Anemia
  • Creation of the heart-lung machine
  • Pacemaker implantation
  • Organ transplants
  • Surgery to replace hips and other joints
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Dental care
  • Chemotherapy
  • Canine vaccines for rabies
  • Treatment of post-shock conditions

Electric eels

  • Neurobiological studies


Frogs, Fish, Reptiles, and Birds

  • Tetanus vaccine
  • Malaria
  • Cure for beriberi
  • Use of ether as an anesthetic
  • Edema treatment
  • Importance of vitamins A, C, and D
  • Cell chemistry
  • Neurobiological studies
  • Liver cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease

Guinea pigs

  • Nutritional studies
  • Vitamin C deficiency


  • Syphilis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s Chorea
  • All motor coordination diseases

Nonhuman Primates

  • Vaccines for polio, rubella, Hepatitis B
  • Cure for yellow fever
  • Discovery of Rhesus (Rh) factor in blood
  • Treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms
  • Studies on AIDS, measles, and malaria
  • Periodontal disease
  • Removal of retinal scar tissue
  • Effects of pollution on infants
  • Development of dietary supplements to treat atherosclerosis
  • Development of artificial blood vessels to bypass or replace blocked arteries
  • Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and mental retardation
  • Liver disease, drug abuse, and obesity
  • Taurine deficiency, which causes vision problems, and zinc deficiency, which causes growth retardation in infants and fetuses
  • Multiple sclerosis and restoring muscle function to paralyzed limbs
  • Bone marrow cancer, and treatment and prevention of colon cancer



  • Middle and inner ear infections
  • Entropion, a condition in which the eyelashes are turned inward
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal transplants
  • Drug metabolism research
  • Rabies vaccine
  • First cataract surgery
  • Link between viruses and cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Acquired immunity
  • Cholesterol studies
  • Effects of aging
  • Muscular disease
  • Product safety testing

Rats, Mice, and Other Rodents

  • Vaccines for diphtheria, typhoid fever, polio, measles, influenza (the flu), rabies, and yellow fever
  • Aging and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer and nutrition
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Kidney disease
  • Bone research
  • Skin transplantation
  • Penicillin as an antibiotic
  • Regulation of cholesterol
  • Hormonal and gene therapy treatments for cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • AIDS
  • Product safety for long-term use, pregnant women, and nursing babies
  • Fertility treatments



  • Human liver cancer
  • Hepatitis B

Click to play!
Are researchers using more and more animals every year?
The number of animals used in research has actually declined in the past 20 years. As technology advances, researchers are able to rely on computer models and other methods instead of animal testing. Some estimates show a reduction in animal use as high as 50 percent. Since 1967, the number of cats used in research has dropped 66 percent.