Billions and Decades Wasted on Worthless Mouse Experiments

Mice are the most common subjects of medical experiments. For decades drugs and treatments have been tested on mice before humans. But it turns out that was a waste of years and of billions of dollars, and that the torture and death of countless animals was pointless.

A Ground-Breaking Study

Researchers published a study on February 11, 2013, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America showing that mice’s reactions to inflammatory diseases have nothing in common with human reactions. In fact, when the two species’ responses were compared, “the outcomes appeared to be random.”

Some of the differences, reported by CBS News: humans had more than three times as many genes affected as the mice did, and humans showed genetic responses up to six months after injury, while mice experienced changes for a few days at most.

The study looked at “nearly 150 potential treatments for severe inflammation” that have been tested on mice in a wide variety of gruesome ways, like scalding them with hot water or slicing open their bellies “and reliev[ing them] of a major portion of their blood supply.” All of the experimental treatments this study included looked promising in mice, but not a single one of them helped humans.

The study focused on “three major killers,” according to The New York Times: “sepsis, burns and trauma.” The study’s authors say that their findings raise the possibility that other experiments on mice are equally worthless, including diseases involving the immune system like cancer.

It is remarkable that scientists are only now reaching this conclusion — and that they didn’t bother even to ask the question a few billion dollars ago. Slate reports that the differences between mice and humans’ immune systems and inflammatory responses were obvious:

“If you inject a person with a bolus of bacteria, she might get a fever. Her heart rate could go up, and her breathing might start to quicken. Left unchecked, there’s a chance her body would succumb to inflammation, her organs failing as she dies.”

Do the same to a laboratory mouse and it recovers. To kill the mouse, “the relative dose must be increased a million times.”

One would think that would have alerted scientists that they were barking up the wrong tree with their mouse obsession.

Whether or not they knew about the fundamental defect in their work, scientists are digging their heels in now. The authors of this study could barely get it published as their colleagues united against them and their findings, which should upset quite a few apple carts. The response from publications that rejected the paper: “It has to be wrong. I don’t know why it is wrong, but it has to be wrong.”

Whither Animal Research Now?

The New York Times quotes Dr. Mitchell Fink, “a sepsis expert at the University of California, Los Angeles,” about the study (which he was not involved with): “This is a game changer,” he proclaimed. The Times reported that “medical experts not associated with the study said that the findings should change the course of research worldwide” for some conditions.

Or not. Slate concludes that we are “not yet on the eve of a Great Mouse Reckoning.” It contends that the study’s authors themselves “have no interest in abandoning” mice as “the standard model even in their modest field of inflammation.” No game changing there.

The reason for the inertia is that a line of mice has been bred over 90 years to be nearly identical to each other. That is why that line has “been the subject of a million research papers and will be the subject of a million more. No model organism provides more depth and flexibility. None is as brilliantly efficient.”

So the study’s authors make a modest call for change: “they’d like to ‘raise the bar’ for mouse studies aimed at curing human disease by asking colleagues to show, first of all, that whichever gene or molecule turns up in animals applies to humans, too. This vital step has been ignored for far too long.”

This is astonishing: scientists have been running experiments on mice with the putative intention of applying the conclusions to humans, without even checking to see that humans have the same genes or molecules as those involved in the experiment. It’s as though scientists have abandoned curing humans as the goal of their work. Is their mission now to secure funding so they remain employed? To achieve professional kudos? Science for its own sake?

Wherever their heads are at, animal experimenters need to screw them back on real tight. However “brilliantly efficient” mice may have seemed as vivisection victims, they are not at all efficient at helping cure humans with inflammatory diseases. Researchers: it is time to let go and move on.


Related Stories:

NIH Spends Our Money to Torture Animals for No Good Reason

95% of Lab Animals Have No Legal Protection From Cruelty

Animal Experiments at 25 Year High in the UK



Fred H.
Fred H.5 years ago

@ Mark D.

You morons, read before you post and don't let your irrational fears make you look like idiots.

Mouse has only been proven ineffective in INFLAMMATION research.. not in human applicable research in general.. and no, paranoido, scientists are not evil and they don't try to destroy the human population or necessarily human lives, it's only that sometimes they are not able to save peoples lives very effectively or without side-effects. You think food is a cure for all and everything? Say that to people with asthma, cerebral palse, ms or HIV. People who is at risk of dying without their medication. Sure, nutrition is very important, and I bet you can't find many scientist who would refute that.

And you are against VACCINES aswell most likely? Have you ever read about lockjaw? or many other common bacteria/viruses that exist commonly in nature that we get regular vaccinations against? Those things are ugly and many of them incredibly lethal, and the only thing you need to do is step in a nail and you are done for!

In short, science is a life saver, so please do not try to imagine that animal testing or mouse testing is an all out evil, some mouse sacrificed its life on many occasions to be able to save your life and many others, if you were ever unlucky enough, and that chance I think is pretty high, the idea that you can't open your eyes to see that, is quite astonishing and almost disgusting.

Also, do you ever think that any sane human would enjoy t

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago


Kari J.
Matilda W6 years ago

Poor mice- so many little lives tortured.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Waheeda S.
Waheeda S6 years ago

This is not surprising!
Just because "scientists" have always tested on mice doesn't mean they should continue to do so. It does not work!

Mark Donners
Mark Donner6 years ago

As for the pathetic comment below.. these "researchers" are not "scientists" they are uneducated, greedy, sadistic monsters posing as "scientists" purely for profit. They do not in any way protect anyone's "health". They entire goal is destruction of health through bringing the population to its knees with release of lethal pharm drugs which are peddled to the population in lieu of adequate nutrition. Any and all animal "researchers" absolutely deserve time in prison and should not be allowed near pets and children or to hold a job above cleaning toilets.

Everett W.
Everett W.6 years ago


"How do these people sleep at night and when will they admit that their old-fashioned methods are cruel and pointless?"

Just how do you sleep at night knowing that every establishment at which you work or purchase things uses far more cruel methods of dealing with these little critters? Do you protest at every such establishment and tell them that you think they are idiots and morons for protecting your health by killing these innocents? Do you threaten to take your business elsewhere (though I cannot imagine where you would take your business)? Would you allow restaurants to break the law by failing to rid themselves of the creatures for which you have such concern? Are you prepared for the plague of diseases that would swamp our modern society if we did not kill vast numbers of rats and mice by whatever means is necessary and effective? Do you and others here really think that research scientists are morons who are heartless. Do you think they would follow the strict experimental protocols required of them if they were truly the monsters you portray?

And last, do you or any of your protesting friends here have possession of or support the possession of one of the most cruel and heartless killers of defenseless mice and rats?

That would be a cat.

Christine Jones
Christine J6 years ago

This is so disgusting, but not surprising. Research institutions like to maintain the status quo and not rock the boat. God forbid that anything should get in the way of their grant funding. As a taxpayer I'm furious that my hard-earned dollars go to these sadistic morons. Even if the experiments were worthwhile, which they are not, I don't want to be the recipient of a treatment which has come about by burning and traumatising poor little mice. How do these people sleep at night and when will they admit that their old-fashioned methods are cruel and pointless?

Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider6 years ago

Sue them for negligent research

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Stupidly wasteful and criminally negligent.