Study in a Sentence: A new paper reviews limitations and translational failures of animals used in noncommunicable disease research and discusses a novel study using indicators to measure the outputs and impact of biomedical research activities funded by the European Union (EU) over the past 20 years.
Healthy for Humans: Over the past few decades, noncommunicable disease research has been enormously funded worldwide, especially by the EU and the U.S. In this review, researchers investigated studies in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and breast and prostate cancer research, with a majority of the projects being preclinical and focusing on understanding the disease pathophysiology and diagnostics. For these studies, animals were used in 19 to 64% of projects, usually along with other nonanimal approaches. The high rate of translational failures generated by research using animals coupled with oversimplistic in vitro models suggests the importance of shifting towards human-relevant approaches in these areas of biomedical research to battle the increasing prevalence of these diseases worldwide.
Redefining Research: The rise of new technologies and models in biomedical research, along with the increasing need for multidisciplinary approaches, requires researchers to take new tactics in their work. This study uses different types of indicators (e.g., funding and economic, scientific and technical, regulatory and policy, etc.) to accurately monitor EU-funded biomedical research to assess the results of research activities and measure their impact on the economy and society. Ultimately, this study aims to drastically reduce the amount of funding that is awarded to research projects using animals and redirect it to human-relevant research.