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Systematic errors affect transfer of animal data to clinical trials

False positive and false negative results may be leading to systematic errors in the ways in which data from animal studies are applied to clinical trials, a study suggests.

Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, compared animal and human studies of six different interventions. He acknowledges that his sample size is too small to give estimates of the extent of agreement between the studies but found a lack of communication between those conducting animal experiments and the corresponding clinical trials.

For instance, he found examples of animal studies being conducted alongside clinical trials of the same intervention and animal researchers speculating possible benefits in humans from treatments already shown to cause harm in large-scale clinical trials. He argues that closer collaboration between those involved in animal research and clinical trials is needed.

Professor Roberts’s report is available to download

Last week the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust published a booklet explaining why they believe that the use of primates in medical research continues to be necessary while the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection called for all experiments on primates to be banned throughout Europe.

The MRC and Wellcome Trust say that the scientific consensus at present is that the use of primates is justified in a small number of specific circumstances. “There is a need to review constantly the ethical and scientific justification for primate use, since both research ethics and science are developing fields,” they add.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10022143

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