Research News

Poor quality animal studies cause clinical trials to follow false leads

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h5453 (Published 14 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5453
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

A lack of rigour in animal studies is damaging the quality of research and can send clinical trials up blind alleys, wasting time and money, an international study has found.1

The findings were echoed in a second, unconnected study from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, which showed that animal trials of the kidney cancer drug sunitinib (Sutent) overestimated its effect by 45%.2

Both teams concluded that improvements are needed in how preclinical studies in animals are planned, organised, and published. Malcolm Macleod, of the University of Edinburgh, UK, who was lead author of the first study, told a briefing at the Science Media Centre in London that these methods were no secret, as they are already used in clinical trials in humans: randomisation, blinding, sample size calculations, and declarations of interest, for example.

Macleod and colleagues1 used three …

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