It should come as no surprise that a drug that works in a mouse often doesn’t work in a person. Even so, Preuss says there’s tremendous momentum to keep using animals as human substitutes. Entire scientific communities are built up around rats, mice and other lab animals.
“Scientists need to break out of a culture that is hampering progress,” Preuss says. That’s tough to do right now, in a world where science funding is on the chopping block. Many scientists are reluctant to take a risk that could backfire. But the upside could benefit us all, in the form of a better understanding of disease, and effective new drugs.