Often, researchers will release positive results of animal tests, and for people with a family member, child or friend that is suffering from the disease they are hoping to cure, this can seem like a major step forward that offers some hope.
However, it’s important to remember that animal testing is just one step in a very long process, and it can be years before a specific drug or treatment is available to the public.
Typically, animal testing follows laboratory testing, where a drug or treatment will have been tested on human cells in a test tube. Animal testing can go on for months or years, and scientists will test their medicines on rats, mice and other lab animals, to see whether they’re safe, and effective.
It’s only once the animal testing phase is over, and the medicine or treatment has shown promise that the first round of human testing will begin. Even then, it’s hard to tell whether the medication in question will succeed, because there are biological differences between animals and humans!
After initial human testing on small groups, drugs with promise will be tested on a
larger group, and it’s only after it’s been proven safe and effective that it will go into production.
So, while animals play an important part in developing potentially life threatening medications, you shouldn’t put too much immediate hope on drugs that are being tested on them – it can be a long time, if ever, before you can use the drugs being tested.