The use of animal models in disease research

Augusto Vitale, Flavia Chiarotti, Enrico Alleva


Animal experimentation has always been an important issue in scientific practice. However, in recent years the use of animals in biomedicine and toxicology has become even more relevant not only for the scientific community, but for the public of non-specialists as well. New considerations in relation to animal welfare and ethics of research has brought to fundamental legislative changes, reflected in the publication of the recent Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used in scientific procedures. This legislation has now been implemented by the 28 Member States (European Commission, 2010; see also Petrini, 2014).

It is not our intention here to discuss the pros and the cons of animal experimentation in the eyes of the different stakeholders taking part in this discussion, but rather point out some important  elements regarding the use of animals in research. We believe that this can be of some interest for the study of rare diseases because, as we will see at the end of this contribution, animal models can be of great help in this particular branch a biomedical research. We apologize with our readers, because some of the concepts are very well known and embedded in experimental biomedicine, but we will mention them as useful for our reasoning.


Animal experimentation, animal models, Directive 2010/63/EU, ethics of research, the 3Rs principle

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