Animal Trials

Our Mission consists in funding research that may lead to treatment of genetic diseases. However, we oppose mistreatment of animals. Thanks to scientific progress, researchers have many systems for testing the efficacy of experimental therapies (e.g. cells, tissues), so nowadays only some of our funded projects entail model animal trials. Where required, Telethon requests that researchers use as few animals as possible and that they apply a rigid code of conduct to minimize suffering. We exert vigilance for compliance with current laws in this regard (in Italy, animal trials are regulated by Decreto legislativo, legislative decree, no. 26 of 4 March 2014 of the Ministry of Health, implementing the European Directive, 2010/63/EU) and we also make sure the researchers have received authorisation from the ethics committees of their institutes. Animal trials are conducted in compliance with current laws and regulations. Such trials cannot be described in any way as mistreatment of animals, which Telethon, too, firmly opposes. Why are animal trials necessary? Research into a therapy for a genetic disease is a time-consuming, complex process generally starting out from the ‘basic’ research stage (when researchers focus on cell or even molecular systems to pinpoint the mechanisms of development of diseases and discover approaches to preventing onset). When systems are isolated (drugs, genes, cells) that block progression of the disease in the basic systems, before administering the therapies to patients we must control them for efficacy and for non-toxicity. To do so, we use a complex organism that is as similar as possible to that of the human being. This practice considerably lowers all risks relating to errors in formulation and administration. Very many instances of medical progress over the last few decades have led to recovery, or have alleviated the suffering, of patients, and yet this would not have been possible had fully justified, carefully conducted and accurate animal trials not taken place. See the Research4Life site, providing a venue for citizens, institutions, media and scientists to constructively debate various issues arising in the field of biomedical research, including animal trials.

The main points raised by animal rights activists and the counter-arguments of scientists

The debate concerning animal trials includes any number of theses, often controversial. We decided to keep our partners well informed on this issue by outlining these various theses and the arguments against them.

Read on