Helping People
Helping Animals

Careers in Caring

Learn More

We spend $6 billion on athletic shoes a year. The National Cancer Institute spent $2.4 billion in 1997 trying to find a cure for cancer.



Medical Breakthroughs


Virtually all medical knowledge and treatment -- certainly, many medical breakthroughs of the last century -- have depended upon research with animals. Biomedical research using animals has contributed to an increased life expectancy of about 25 years in the U.S. since 1900.

There is a great need for continued research on AIDS, heart disease, viral infections, arthritis and other compelling health problems. The means to cure, treat and prevent these diseases will depend upon continued animal research.  1 http://www.maabre.org/animals_research_ben.htm

These are just a few of the medical breakthroughs of the past that used animals that we now benefit from:

• Vaccinations for polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles, rubella,

  pertussis, and hepatitis.

• Treatments for asthma, severe burns, juvenile diabetes,

  leukemia, newborn sickness and premature births.

• Prevention and treatment of birth defects

• Antibiotics for a variety of bacterial infections

• Microsurgery to reattach severed limbs

• Remedies for childhood poisonings

• Management of epilepsy, cystic fibrosis

• Organ transplants

• Correction of congenital heart defects

Learn more about medical breakthroughs in these areas: 


Children’s Neurological Disorders

[• Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in children and the third most common in adults after Alzheimer’s and stroke, affecting almost 1 percent of the U.S. population. Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. Epilepsy is a disorder with many possible causes. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity - from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development - can lead to seizures. Epilepsy may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, or some combination of these factors. Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. Only when a person has had two or more seizures is he or she considered to have epilepsy. EEGs and brain scans are common diagnostic test for epilepsy.


• Cerebral palsy, also referred to as CP, is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy. Thus, these disorders are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain disrupt the brain's ability to adequately control movement and posture. It is estimated that some 764,000 children and adults in the United States manifest one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Currently, about 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with the condition each year. In addition, some 1,200 - 1,500 preschool age children are recognized each year to have cerebral palsy.


• Tourette syndrome, spinabifida, hydrocephalus, microcephalus, Maebius syndrome are also classified as children’s neurological disorders.

Tourette syndrome causes uncontrolled actions such as verbal outbursts and muscular tics. Spinabifida is a spinal cord defect. Hydrocephalus and microcephalus are fetal defects characterized by abnormally large or small heads. Moebius syndrome is the medical name for congenitally misshapen feet.


Current research

• Rapid advances in brain scanning technology, especially magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are contributing to recognition of the conditions and understanding their causes. These advances, combined with human genome research, allow scientists to design new drugs that are more specific, effective and have fewer side effects.


• Cerebral palsy prevention measures, mostly involving the mother, are being improved on the basis of new knowledge about the brain damage that causes the disorder. These may deal with blood incompatibility and exposures to virus and other infections during pregnancy.


• Genetically engineered laboratory mice are being studied extensively in the U.S. and in Europe and the recent identification of three specific genes has brought researchers significantly closer to understanding of inherited conditions that might cause epilepsy and other disorders.

http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/ http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/epilepsy.htm



Organ Transplants

[Since the 1980's, thousands of people have benefited from technology that allows organs to be transplanted to replace a failing system. Heart, kidney and lung transplants – among others – have allowed thousands of people to lead normal lives. Through current medical research, these surgeries are being perfected and long-term health questions are being answered. Transplantation Biology Research Center in Boston, Massachusetts states that in the United States alone, more than 45,000 people a year are placed on waiting lists to receive suitable organs for life-saving transplants. Bone marrow transplantation has likewise become a means of curing hematologic malignancies and other blood-related diseases and is the only hope for thousands suffering from such illnesses.]


Current research

• A treatment to block organ rejection has remained effective for up to a year in monkeys that received transplanted kidneys. The experimental treatment will one day free some transplant patients from having to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives.

For more information on organ transplants and current research visit the following websites:



Emergency Medicine

[Trauma and accident victims often have serious problems due to blood loss. Scientists, through biomedical research, have developed surgical techniques and other treatments for accident victims.


Current research

• Scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the American Red Cross have developed a bandage loaded with dried, highly concentrated blood-clotting proteins that can halt even severe arterial bleeding within minutes.


• In animal tests, the bandage stopped previously uncontrollable bleeding in seconds. Human tests for the bandage are required before requesting approval from the FDA.]



[The American Diabetes Association reports that there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease. Based on death certificate data, diabetes contributed to 224,092 deaths in 2002. Diabetes can cause blindness and kidney failure. It also doubles the risk of heart attacks and strokes.


Current research

• Researchers have tested more than 50,000 natural and synthetic substances and have found a fungus compound that acts like insulin, raising the possibility that diabetics may be able to take pills instead of shots.

• With this treatment, being tested in mice with diabetes, the researchers found that it significantly lowered the sugar in animals’ blood.

• One of the most promising areas of research is the development of stem cell-based therapies.

• Islet transplantation is a procedure that replaces only the cells required to normalize blood sugars -- cells that have already been lost because of diabetes. 

More information on diabetes and current research can be found at the following websites:




Breast Cancer

[For years, scientists have searched for a genetic link for breast cancer. After four years of experiments, researchers have finally bred a strain of mice that indicates how a gene causes breast cancer.

Current research

• Developing the first animal model to study the disease is the latest in a controversial, two-decade hunt for the breast-cancer gene. Within months of the 1994 discovery of the gene, researchers began marketing a test that revealed to women in certain families whether they had inherited a higher-than-usual risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.]



[The American Foundation for Aids Research reports that as of November 2006, there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Worldwide, a total of 39.5 million people now live with HIV/AIDS, for which there is no cure. Scientists now say that the risk of contracting AIDS is no longer confined to a few high-risk groups.


Current research

• AIDS researchers at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta have been searching for answers and cures for the AIDS virus. Recent breakthroughs at the center look promising for protection against the disease. Scientists have created a DNA vaccine that protects monkeys against the HIV virus. Achieving protection with this vaccine, made with harmless components from a SHIV and HIV combination, is a promising step toward development of an effective vaccine.


• Researchers hope the first human trials of a substance that blocks cervical cancer could also help kill HIV, the HIV virus that causes AIDS. A topical solution, sodium dedecyl sulfate – an ingredient found in toothpaste and shampoo – kills human papillomavirus, the sexually transmitted infection that causes cervical cancer. The solution has also shown to be effective in killing HIV.


• The virus that causes feline AIDS has helped researchers develop a potential treatment for HIV. The new chemical, active in feline AIDS, was found to work against the human virus in test tube experiments.

Information on HIV/AIDS research can be found at the following websites:  http://www.amfar.org  http://www.aidsresearch.org]


Liver Disease

[At three pounds, the human liver is the body’s largest internal organ and is amazingly intricate, working to detoxify the blood and to make an array of vital proteins. The term "liver disease" applies to many diseases and disorders that cause the liver to function improperly or cease functioning. Abnormal results of liver function tests often suggest liver disease.


Current research

• Results of laboratory animal studies over the past year are providing new clues about how to prevent liver damage and giving researchers hope that they might be able to halt or even reverse the progression of liver cirrhosis.


• Experiments have involved two types of lab mice – regular mice and so-called "knockout" mice, which lack a gene necessary to produce interleukin-(il-6), an immune system component that has a number of functions, most notably to trigger inflammation.


• Scientists assumed that the knockout mice would fare better than their counterparts, instead they discovered knockout mice had a death rate twice those that produced the il-6.

While discoveries that il-6 is needed to combat liver cirrhosis looks promising, more experimentation is needed before the results can be used in humans.

To learn more about liver disease and current research check out the following websites:




Heart Disease

[Experiments with dogs and other animals have led to several breakthroughs for humans in combating heart disease. Most of what we know about cardiology – including open-heart surgery, which saves hundreds of thousands of lives each year -–has come from studying animals. Now, studies show that a new drug may help in the fight against heart disease.


Current research

• Discovered at Harvard, endostatin has already proved effective in treating some cancerous tumors in mice. Now, the same drug has shown to slow the development of hardening of the arteries, also called artheroschlerosis.

• The research raises the possibility that a new category of drugs, known as blood vessel inhibitors, may be useful against heart disease and cancer.

• A researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, New York City developed and tested a drug that completely prevented sudden death from arrhythmia in mice with the same heart defect as people with heart failure.

Information on heart disease can be found at the following website:



Gene Therapy

[Animals have also been useful in gene therapy, a relatively new method of combating several diseases. By isolating genes that cause the disease, gene therapy has been useful in discovering who may be at risk for certain diseases – including Parkinson’s Disease and obesity.


• Two research groups have discovered a gene known to suppress obesity and regulate how quickly the body burns calories. This find could be the first step in keeping people thin. Scientists have tested mice with and without this gene, mice with the mutated gene did not gain weight regardless of their diet.


• Some researchers have isolated a group of bone-precursor cells from skeletal muscle, transferred them into a gene that fosters bone growth and injected these genetically altered cells into mice. The results shows that muscle-derived stem cells are capable of forming bones inside animals, leading physicians to deliver bone-producing cells to certain types of bone fractures.


• Corrective genes were successfully delivered to certain brain cells of laboratory mice, saving them from dying of a simulated form of Parkinson’s Disease and correcting some of their walking difficulties. The result is the latest example of experimental viral gene therapy; a technology attempting to cure a variety of diseases.


• Scientists have also used a form of gene therapy to insert a gene for the protein, called vascular endothelial growth factor, into the leg muscles of adult mice. The muscle cells create high levels of the growth factor, attracting new cells to the site and leading to the formation of major new blood vessel structures previously thought to exist only during the embryonic stage. The research suggests that stem cells can be used to build new vascular structures and blood vessels, which has applications in treating heart disease, diabetes and preventing tumors.

 •A team of British doctors from Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College in London conduct first human gene therapy trials to treat Leber's congenital amaurosis, a type of inherited childhood blindness caused by a single abnormal gene. The procedure has already been successful at restoring vision for dogs. •Gene Therapy cures deafness in guinea pigs. Each animal had been deafened by destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea that translate sound vibrations into nerve signals. A gene, called Atoh1, which stimulates the hair cells' growth, was delivered to the cochlea by an adenovirus. The genes triggered re-growth of the hair cells and many of the animals regained up to 80% of their original hearing thresholds. This study, which many pave the way to human trials of the gene, is the first to show that gene therapy can repair deafness in animals.  Check out more information on gene therapy at the following website: http://www.ornl.gov/]



[Approximately 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment. About 2 to 4 of every 1,000 people in the United States are "functionally deaf," though more than half became deaf relatively late in life; fewer than 1 out of every 1,000 people in the United States became deaf before 18 years of age.

Deafness affects development and ability to communicate. The disability costs $30 billion each year in medical costs, special education, and lost productivity.


Current Research

• Researchers have used animals to discover the chromosome they believe responsible for certain types of congenital deafness in mice. In a study that is part of a larger project that also involves humans, the researchers were able to produce A mouse that could hear. The researchers injected tiny bits of normal DNA into fertilized mouse eggs specifically bred to be deaf.

 • Scientist for Deafness Research UK found that, despite the fact that noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, they are optimistic that it may eventually be possible to reverse damage to hearing by regenerating the sensory hair cells.

When hair cells die they are not replaced in humans or other mammals but it has been shown that birds possess the ability to replace these dead hair cells with new ones. The task now being undertaken by Deafness Research UK scientists is to try and understand why birds are capable of regenerating hair cells and what prevents this occurring in mammals. This will hopefully lead to the future development of treatments to induce hair cell regeneration in humans in order to restore lost hearing. Check out the following websites for more information on deafness and hearing loss:




[According to the American Cancer Society, it was estimated that there would be 1,444,920 new cancer cases and 559,650 deaths due to cancer in 2007. Researchers continually struggle to find cures for the various cancers that affect Americans. Cancer affects three out of four families and costs $70 billion each year in health care expenditures. But researchers are constantly searching for answers to this family of deadly diseases.


Current Research

• A new drug developed has been shown to cure human small-cell lung cancer in mice when taken in low doses. Initial data from preclinical studies showed the drug, used in non-curative doses and combined with chemotherapy, completely eliminated the animals’ tumors in 100 percent of the mice.

• Scientists at The Institute for Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA are developing a mouse model to better study ovarian cancer

• Researchers at the University of Vermont are investigating the idea of using mammary epithelium from pigs to study breast cancer in humans. 

The following links provide more information on cancer and current research:http://www.cancer.org www.cancer.gov]





[Researchers have used mice to discover how external factors affect your brain.


Current research

• For example, researchers think running could build up your brain. Mice that ran on an exercise wheel whenever they wanted created more new cells in one area of the brain than mice that pursued other activities. The study followed up on previous work that found mice created more cells in the hippocampus, an area involved with memory and learning.

• The Society for Neuroscience reports one key study, partly funded by the National Institutes of Health, recently found that stem cell transplants could develop into brain cells and be incorporated into the injured brains of mice. What's more, evidence indicated that the transplants helped the animals recover lost movement functions.Check out the following websites for more information on research of the brain:  http://www.sfn.org/


Spinal Cord Injuries

[The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in Birmingham, Alabama reports that as of June 2006 there are 11,000 new spinal cord injuries injuries in the US each year. Current estimates are 225,000 to 296,000  individuals living with spinal cord injury.


Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae, the bone disks that make up your spine. Most injuries don't sever your spinal cord. Instead, they cause damage when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals. In a complete spinal cord injury, the cord can't relay messages below the level of the injury. As a result, you are paralyzed below the level of injury. In an incomplete injury, you have some movement and sensation below the injury.


Current research

• Scientists have used nose cells from pigs to regenerate and restore function to severed spinal cords in rats and primates. The procedure was successfully used on 25 to 50 rats whose spinal cords were surgically severed. • Research investigators at the Center for Paralysis Research at Purdue University have shown that immediate repair of nerve fibers is possible in severed and compressed adult guinea pig spinal cords. This offers the promise of rescuing substantial portions of damaged spinal cord at the time of initial surgery.

Without the contributions of mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, cats and a variety of other animal species, many diseases would remain unsolvable puzzles. Thanks to these animals, however, both humans and animals are free from many diseases that once plagued the world.

The following websites can provide more information on spinal cord injuries and current research:

Hope for more cures and treatments continue as animal research progresses.



Click to play!
Donít people choose careers in medical research using animals because it is an easy way to receive funding dollars and make high salaries?
No. Most researchers could make more money in other careers. People choose to go into research because they want to find answers to complicated questions. Animal research is often a vital step in finding the answers. more...