We appreciate the concerns of the public and recognise that many may have questions about the use of animals in research work funded by DRWF. The literature from many anti-vivisection organisations is often both emotive and shocking, but it is also misleading in parts and does not present an accurate picture of medical research in the UK today.
We hope that we can explain why our charity (and many other leading medical research organisations, see www.amrc.org.uk) supports some research involving animals in order to try to save thousands of lives. We would like to underline the fact that we only ever fund research involving animals where there is no other feasible alternative.
Every grant application received by DRWF is checked carefully and goes through a rigorous peer review procedure. Researchers’ work must be based on a clear set of principles: to REDUCE the number of animals used, REPLACE experiments with non-animal alternatives and to REFINE the care and attention of animals - in line with the '3R' agenda.
As you probably know, diabetes affects every nation around the world and it is anticipated that if current trends continue more than 640 million people will be affected by 2040. It costs health services enormous sums of money, and much trauma to the many people who have it. In the UK, diabetes accounts for a large percentage of amputations in our hospitals and is considered the leading cause of blindness in the working age population. It is also true that diabetes can strike anyone at any time, given the right circumstances, so no-one should feel very safe from it. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, people with type 1 diabetes usually died, so the discovery was heralded at the time as the most important step in diabetes.
Animals in research is not an issue that we take lightly. There is a constant striving to develop techniques that mean fewer animals need be used in experiments. Wherever possible, our researchers aim to carry out their work on patients, with computers, or in laboratory tests with cells. But ultimately, they are all working towards the common aim of preventing disease and death, and so they need to explore every available avenue, which might one day lead to new drugs, treatments and cures.
Let me assure you that any research funded by DRWF which requires animal models is carried out in a humane way and in accordance with strict Home Office guidelines. Please remember too, that it is not just humans who benefit from new drugs designed for humans. Many animals can be treated with medication that has been developed from animal research. Therefore, many vets support animal research where no other alternative is feasible.
Scientists funded by the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation have made some significant advancements in the progress towards finding improved treatments and a cure for diabetes. As yet we don’t have all the answers, until we do, research work must go on. For the foreseeable future some of that research may inevitably involve animals.
More information on the use of animals in medical research is available from AMRC
DRWF Position Statement - December 2016