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Are animal research trials fit for purpose?

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By Matthew Limb

Medical experts are calling for a review of the way data from animal experiments are reported and used.

They say there is ‘systematic failures’ in preclinical research trials involving animals and they want urgent action to make animal research ‘more fit for purpose as a valuable and reliable forerunner to clinical research in humans.’

Their call follows an investigation by The BMJ that unearthed concerns about how researchers from Oxford University ‘misrepresented’ the results of animal studies to gain funding and approval for human trials to test a new tuberculosis vaccine.

The investigation focused on MVA85A, a vaccine developed by researchers to boost the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine and provide extra protection against tuberculosis, which kills over a million people a year.

The vaccine was reported as being effective in animals but failed to show benefit when tested in a large clinical trial in South African children in 2009. …

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