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Animals Models for Human Drug Trials of Limited Use

Biological differences and bias may explain discordance with human studies

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The results of animal studies for new drugs are often out of step with those from human trials, limiting their usefulness, according to a report published online Dec. 15 in BMJ.

Ian Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K., and colleagues conducted a systematic review of trials with unambiguous results for various interventions including treatment for stroke, head injury, respiratory distress and osteoporosis.

There were several striking examples of discordance between animal and human trials, such as those studying the effect of corticosteroids in the treatment of head injury, which showed no benefit in clinical trials despite showing benefit in animal models. Similarly, animals trials of tirilazad to treat stroke had positive results, but human trials contradicted the findings, suggesting no benefit and possible harm.

"That there is a gap between clinical research and clinical practice is well established. Our work highlights another gap -- specifically the lack of communication between those involved in animal research and clinical trialists," the authors conclude. "Systematic reviews could help identify and improve deficiencies in the conduct and reporting of animal research."

Some support was received by Pharmacia, Upjohn and Boehringer Ingelheim.

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