HL Deb 14 February 1979 vol 398 cc1389-90WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the value to cancer sufferers of research involving living animals during the past decade.


Research involving living animals in the past decade has been of substantial value. Scientific techniques now offer the means to cure some cancers and greatly to improve the quality of life for people suffering from cancers which so far are incurable. Almost all this advance would have been impossible without experiments. It stems largely from the introduction and use of radiation and chemical therapies. Many of these are extremely hazardous. I am advised that animal experiments as models of what happens in man are unavoidable if new agents are to be introduced and tested so that their benefits can be balanced against undesirable effects—many of which can appear long after treatment and are especially important when the patient's life is substantially prolonged.

For the future, efforts to improve the treatment of cancer still further will continue but work on the prevention of cancer by the identification and removal of agents causing the disease is of equal importance. This work will include carefully controlled clinical studies and screening tests which involve little use of animals.

The Co-ordinating Committee on Cancer Research jointly set up in 1970 by the Medical Research Council, the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund has recently established a sub-committee which is looking into the question of the best use and husbandry of animals but also at opportunities for reducing their use so far as possible.