What is 'research involving animals'?

There are many misconceptions about what animal research involves. Here we explain the real facts.

Rat and lego pieces
Animals may be involved in behavioural studies

Why carry out research involving animals?

Life-enhancing medical advances have followed research on chemicals, cells, animals and the human body. Research studies look at new ways to understand diseases, and the carefully regulated use of animals is a key part of this. Scientists first identify a 'target' in the body (often a protein) where a new medicine should work. They then study the target in cells, tissues, animals and human samples.

Does animal research just include the testing of medical treatments?

No. Animal research is undertaken to either understand basic biology, or perform research for the benefit of humans or animals.

Is it just universities that carry out research involving animals?

No. A range of organisations carry out a wide breadth of research involving animals, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, charities, research institutes, hospitals and government. Identifying new medicines is just one element of this research. For instance, conservation work that protects and preserves existing populations of animals is another major area of research.

Common misconceptions about animal research