Scientists give thanks to lab friends

By ZHU XINGXIN and CHEN LIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-25 09:44
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Technician Teng Qingfeng holds a ferret at a cultivation base of the Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences in Beijing on Aug 13. [ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY]

Academy pays tribute to animals for sacrifices made for human health

Nearly 30 species of animals are used for research purposes in fields such as biology, medicine and pharmaceuticals in China, making the country one of the important breeders and users of laboratory animals in the world.

Laboratory animal studies began in the country in the 1980s. In medicine, the use of lab animals is seen as a pathway to finding cures for human diseases. An animal's response to a disease similar to one that affects humans is used in the lab to establish an animal model of the disease, a process described as the "artificial patient" approach, and it contributes to medical research of the disease.

According to professor Qin Chuan, director of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences in Beijing, animal models are vital to the continued progress of medicine, as well as vaccine research and development, especially at a time when the world is fighting a pandemic.

Animal models have played a very important role in drug research, as potential new drugs and diagnosis techniques must first undergo safety and effectiveness testing on animal models before they can be used on humans, Qin said. "Soon after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, we established the world's first animal model to simulate SARS-CoV-2 infection and pneumonia, and thus broke the bottleneck in basic research and vaccine development for COVID-19," she said.

Every year, the institute organizes a ceremony to offer thanks to its lab animals. It is an opportunity for scientists to express their gratitude to the animals for their sacrifices in the name of human health. China has strict laws and procedures to protect the welfare of research animals, and is making great efforts to develop alternative methods to animal experimentation.

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