Animals in research
are dedicated to saving lives by developing better treatments
and cures for heart conditions. As part of this work we support
essential research using cells grown in a laboratory, computer
models, and human volunteers.
Where these are not feasible, we fund research involving
Recently, a BHF-funded study at
Maastricht University involving dogs was suspended after a campaign
by an animal rights group. This has been reported in the UK by a
Explaining why the BHF funded this
project, our Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg said: “This
study could help to improve a pacemaker treatment for people
suffering from severe heart failure
debilitating condition that ruins the lives of hundreds of
thousands of people in the UK.
“The treatment, known as cardiac
resynchronisation therapy, can help control the symptoms of heart
failure which commonly include overwhelming breathlessness and
chronic fatigue. But this treatment does not entirely relieve the
symptoms, the risk of death remains high and in some patients it
does not work at all.
"If this treatment were to be made more
effective, it could dramatically improve the quality of life for
hundreds of thousands of people living with heart failure.
“The researchers are working to improve
this pacemaker treatment but these studies must be carried out in
animals before they can be assessed in clinical trials in heart
failure patients. The electrical wiring and size of a dog’s heart
is very similar to a human heart, allowing the researchers to see
how pacemakers might behave in patients. There is currently no
alternative that could be used to carry out this potentially
"Our research has led to life-saving
medical advances for heart patients over the past half century. But
there's so much work to be done and, for the foreseeable future,
that will involve using animals in research."
Find out more about heart failure
and why research like this is so
We actively encourage our funded
researchers to use fewer animals and look for other research
methods. If that's not possible we require them to apply the
highest standards to animal welfare.
Our research has led to life-saving medical advances for heart
patients over the past half century. But there's so much work to be
done and, for the foreseeable future, that will involve using
animals in research.
All our grant applications go through a strict peer review
system when deciding which to fund. This makes sure that
all BHF-funded scientists are following a clear set of
principles - the
three Rs - to reduce the number of animals used and
maximise their welfare:
- replace with non-animal alternatives where possible
- reduce the number of animals used
- refine the care and attention of animals to achieve the highest
When our researchers do use animals, all work is carried out in
line with strict Home
This is not an issue we or our funded researchers take
The research community is constantly developing new techniques
to help us use fewer animals or non-animal models. Our scientists
carry out as much of their research as possible on human
volunteers, cells, or computers.
However, completely replacing all animals in research is not yet
possible. There is no alternative method that can reproduce the
complicated working of our hearts and circulatory systems.
More work to be done
Many of the treatments we commonly use today could not have been
developed without animal research. Heart failure medicines, pacemakers, and heart
transplants are just a few examples.
But coronary heart disease is still the UK’s single biggest
killer. We need more research to develop new treatments and help
people live longer happier lives. And sometimes, we will need
animal research to do this.
For more information please see our
Animal and Heart Research leaflet or email firstname.lastname@example.org.