Can Animal Models of Disease Reliably Inform Human Studies?

Articles published in PLoS Medicine and PLoS Biology today suggest that selective reporting of medical research carried out on animals may be creating a false impression of how effective drugs might be.

Publication bias—the tendency for positive results that highlight medical advances to be published rather than negative or neutral findings—is known to be a major problem in clinical trials but its impact on basic research has not been quantified. A PLoS Biology study by Malcolm Macleod and colleagues shows that publication bias is prevalent in reports of laboratory-based research in animal models of stroke, such that data from as many as one in seven experiments remain unpublished

A PLoS Medicine Research in Translation article by H. van der Worp and colleagues discusses the controversies and possibilities of translating the results of animal experiments into human clinical trials. The authors call for the development of registries for animal studies—similar to those created for clinical trials—to help limit the effects of publication bias.

Both these articles were highlighted in a Nature News article today.

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