Comparison Of Treatment Effects Between Animal Experiments And Clinical Trials
To test the efficacy of animal models in developing treatments to human ailments, this study conducts a systematic review of the published studies addressing treatments for six human ailments. The authors compared the outcomes in the animal experiments to the outcomes in human trials and found them to be similar for only half of the conditions. In three of the conditions outcomes for the human and animal models were similar, though in some cases there was evidence of publication bias. In three of the conditions, the results between human and animal models varied.
Excerpts from Article Abstract:
“Animal studies for interventions with unambiguous evidence of a treatment effect (benefit or harm) in clinical trials: head injury, antifibrinolytics in haemorrhage, thrombolysis in acute ischaemic stroke, tirilazad in acute ischaemic stroke, antenatal corticosteroids to prevent neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, and bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.”
“Results: Corticosteroids did not show any benefit in clinical trials of treatment for head injury but did show a benefit in animal models (pooled odds ratio for adverse functional outcome 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.41 to 0.83). Antifibrinolytics reduced bleeding in clinical trials but the data were inconclusive in animal models. Thrombolysis improved outcome in patients with ischaemic stroke. In animal models, tissue plasminogen activator reduced infarct volume by 24% (95% confidence interval 20% to 28%) and improved neurobehavioural scores by 23% (17% to 29%). Tirilazad was associated with a worse outcome in patients with ischaemic stroke. In animal models, tirilazad reduced infarct volume by 29% (21% to 37%) and improved neurobehavioural scores by 48% (29% to 67%). Antenatal corticosteroids reduced respiratory distress and mortality in neonates whereas in animal models respiratory distress was reduced but the effect on mortality was inconclusive (odds ratio 4.2, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 20.9). Bisphosphonates increased bone mineral density in patients with osteoporosis. In animal models the bisphosphonate alendronate increased bone mineral density compared with placebo by 11.0% (95% confidence interval 9.2% to 12.9%) in the combined results for the hip region. The corresponding treatment effect in the lumbar spine was 8.5% (5.8% to 11.2%) and in the combined results for the forearms (baboons only) was 1.7% (−1.4% to 4.7%).”
“Conclusions: Discordance between animal and human studies may be due to bias or to the failure of animal models to mimic clinical disease adequately.”