Europe: Prioritise human-predictive, non-animal approaches to cancer research

Deadline: Thursday, May 21 (midnight Brussels-time)

Humane Society International

The European Commission is inviting public input on its strategy for beating cancer.

Currently, more than 1 million animals are used each year in European cancer research, funded by taxpayers to the tune of millions of euros. Yet despite the high welfare cost to animals, industry reports reveal that a cancer drugs that show promise in animal tests have a mere 5.1% ‘likelihood of approval’ for clinical use.

To develop the urgently needed, affordable and effective treatments for patients, the EU needs to prioritise funding for research of innovative, advanced technologies that are focused on humans.

Add your voice TODAY to help save human AND animal lives

After registering using a social media account for authentication, click on the yellow ‘Respond to the questionnaire’ box to begin.

The consultation includes 22 questions, most of which are optional, but ones marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory for statistical purposes.

Below are some tips on completing 5 key questions in particular:

Question 2, third bullet point: What do you think public authorities/national governments can do to help beat cancer?

To develop the urgently needed, affordable and effective treatments for patients, EU public authorities need to prioritise funding of human-relevant, animal-free research. Horizon’s Europe’s Cancer Mission should focus on sophisticated human cell culture, computational approaches, and other innovative, advanced technologies and methodologies to better model human cancer. These approaches are proving more accurate than mouse models, and already offer a route to personalised tumour treatments for people with cancer today, as well as an effective platform for evaluating new treatments.

Question 4: Do you have enough information about how to prevent cancer? When selecting ‘No’, the survey asks ‘What information would you need?’

The EU needs to invest in and adopt human-based, animal-free safety assessment strategies that allow us to better understand which chemicals have the potential to cause cancer in humans. By speeding up the replacement of failing animal models with new human-relevant technologies that better predict cancer hazard, EU authorities will be able to take swifter and more appropriate measures to limit exposure to harmful chemicals that could lead to cancer.

Question 8: What could Europe do to ensure that cancer patients across Europe receive the best available treatment at an affordable price, independently of where they live?

Patients and health systems end up paying more because they currently have to cover the cost of development of the overwhelming number of potential cancer drugs that fail to work in humans after being tested in animals. To make cancer drugs more affordable, we need to stop funding unreliable preclinical strategies that use animals as human surrogates and fully invest in human-based, animal-free platforms that faithfully replicate human diseases.

Question 18: Tell us what a successful cancer plan means to you. 10 years after we implement the plan, what should have improved in the lives of European citizens?

A successful plan will have saved more lives than ever before! It will have provided cancer patients with better quality of life, less drug side effects, and improved access to high quality treatment. It will also have reduced the incidence of cancer through education and by offering better screening and diagnostic tests. Crucially, a successful plan will have contributed to advancing science and improving the health and well-being of all citizens by funding innovative biomedical research technologies that are human-focused and reject the use of animal surrogates to mimic the human condition.

Question 22: Is there anything else that you would like to add that has not been covered in this consultation?

Despite more than 1 million animals being used each year in European cancer research, a shocking 97% of cancer drugs that appear promising in animals fail to work in human patients. It is clear that current methodologies for developing and testing new cancer treatments are not working. Cancer is a highly complex and very individual disease that cannot be fully understood whilst research focuses on experimentation with animal models that cannot accurately mimic human cancer. The EU needs to invest in human-relevant research and testing that accelerates the replacement of failing animal models.