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  1. Roger Lemon, professor (rlemon@ion.ucl.ac.uk),
  2. Stephen B Dunnett, professor
  1. Institute of Neurology, London WC1N 3BG
  2. School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3US

    Critical reviews may be helpful—not systematic ones

    The value of animal research for finding new treatments for human diseases is a continuing debate. The starting point of the debate must be the recognition of the past contributions of animal experiments to our understanding of disease and existing treatments. We can cite the major impact of research based on animals in diseases such as polio, kidney transplantation, and Parkinson's disease. Almost every form of conventional medical treatment (including most drugs, surgical treatments, and vaccines) was developed with the help of animal research.13 Most of what we know about the basic workings of the body—in humans and animals—has come to us through two centuries of animal experiments. Each decade of animal research has brought newer and deeper understanding.4 What we lack, however, are better methods of surveying the literature on animal experiments.

    Curiosity about fundamental biological mechanisms has yielded a rich harvest of useful knowledge. Although around 30% of …

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