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University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
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Animals in research

There are three main types of scientific research in which animals can be used:

  • “Pure” research: basic investigation into aspects of the biochemistry, physiology and anatomy usually of mammals for biomedical research.
  • Research into the causes and treatment of disease: investigation into pathological biochemistry, and physiology.
  • Testing of products for safety of use.

What is an animal experiment?

An experiment is a scientific investigation that has an uncertain outcome. With respect to vertebrates, (and interestingly one species of octopus), in the UK this type of procedure can only be done if it is licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. Many invertebrates such as fruit flies and worms are also used in research, but are not protected under British law. A “regulated procedure" for the purposes of this Act means any experimental or other scientific procedure applied to a protected animal which may have the effect of causing that animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. Around 2.7 million such procedures per year are so defined. Some of these will involve vivisection.

What is vivisection?

Vivisection refers to the dissection or, more generally, any cutting or surgery upon a living animal, typically for the purpose of physiological or pathological scientific investigation.

 Consider the difference between pure and applied research.

Go to and read about the distinction between pure, or basic and applied research.

  • Discuss some examples of when animals are used a) in pure research and b) in applied research.
  • Do you think it is more ethically acceptable to use them in pure or applied research?


Next: What animals are used in research?


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NOT RATED immy555 28-01-10 15:11
it is ok if it saves human lives or helps medical research but not for fashion or cosmetics
NOT RATED 08-03-17 11:35
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