Impact of Animal Research

Queen’s, in agreement with the majority of the research community and the public, affirms that research using animals has made, and continues to make, a vital contribution to improving human and animal health.

Animal research has enhanced the understanding, treatment and cure of cancer, cardiovascular disease, blindness, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases.

The University only uses animals where there are no alternatives, but the impact of this work can be significant, as outlined in the case studies below:

Giving new hope to ovarian cancer patients

Epithelial ovarian cancer ranks among the top ten diagnosed cancers. Queen's identified the need to advance the treatment of this particular cancer, subsequently a new drug based on a naturally occuring protein has been developed. This protein inhibits new blood vessel development, an essential requirement for solid tumour growth, supplying growing tumours with oxygen and nutrients. Research using both cancer cell lines and experimental studies in mice has demonstrated that the drug, derived from this natural protein, is also a potent inhibitor of tumour blood vessel development and significantly reduces human tumour growth.  Promising results from pre-clinical studies have now expedited the drug to undergo first-in-human cancer clinical trials here in Belfast.  Centres in Newcastle and Manchester are working alongside Queen's in collaboration with a leading pharmaceutical company, giving new hope to ovarian cancer patients.


Environmental enrichment for dogs in shelters

‌Thousands of animals are housed in captive conditions worldwide, often to the detriment of their psychological welfare.  The Director of the University's Animal Behaviour Centre has spent the past 20 years carrying out pioneering research aimed at improving the mental well-being of captive-housed animals.  The research is largely concerned with enrichment of the physical and sensory environment, using, for example, music, odourants and visual stimulation.  The work has had significant impact at a global level, helping to shape codes of practice on the housing and care of pets housed in stressful situations such as kennels, and higher order primates and elephants held in zoos.  The research has also influenced the development of commercially available products.  One of these, a CD produced by an American composer following the research on auditory enrichment, is now used in over 150,000 rescue kennels in an effort to calm the animals housed within.  Links with industry have also resulted in the development of foodstuffs designed to improve pet welfare.