What Can Be Used Instead

The animal-free and human-relevant methods that should be used instead.

Depression is a serious condition that affects many Kiwis. Between 50-80% of New Zealanders will experience mental distress, including depression or addiction challenges, at some point in their lives.1 Therefore, finding effective treatments for people in need is crucial!

Our best chance of finding these treatments is by using human-relevant and animal-free research methods.

There are already reliable methods to test drugs meant for humans without using animals, and more are being developed.

Some of this animal-free research includes:

  • Decoding the electric activity (EEG) in the human brain that relates to mood.2
  • Research in the actual human population,3 MRI brain scans4,5 and infrared neuro-imaging6, combined with computer models, and health record processing with Artificial Intelligence7 to better understand and estimate the individual experience of depression and the resulting response to treatment.
  • Studying brain samples of donors with mood disorders post-mortem.8
  • Human stem cell research with samples from depressive disorder patients already gave some insight into difference in nerve cell communication9 and effects of antidepressant effects10.
  • A brain organoid (3D cell model) made it possible to measure neurotoxicity of an antidepressant.11 With more research and knowledge about mechanisms of depression in humans, it may be possible to measure efficiency of antidepressants in organ-chips.
  • Pharmaceutical companies can even combine brain-chips from stem cells with AI technology to provide patient-specific data.12

There is not yet a reliable non-animal method to trial medication for mood disorders. But the reasons for that are the same for why animal models do not work: Depression and other mood disorders are highly complex individual experiences, and their causes are still not well understood.13

The sooner we focus research efforts on human-centred methods rather than trying to equate animal behaviour in cruel experiments to human realities, the sooner we will be able to make true progress for people and science.

Learn more here.

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.