What's new - a moving timeline
We have now added an illustrated medical history timeline to the Your Health section of the Understanding Animal Research website. Move through the decades and follow the links to see the contribution of animals to some major medical advances. These include the vaccines and treatments that we often take for granted today.
The timeline starts in the 19th century listing some major discoveries and developments such as the lifecycle of the malaria parasite, early anaesthetics and the smallpox vaccine.
In the early 20th century animal research was crucial to key advances such as the ability to transfuse blood and the development of insulin to treat diabetes.
The 1940s and 1950s could be regarded as a ‘golden age’ of medical progress with the many advances including the first antibiotics, vaccines for infectious diseases and surgical techniques such as transplants.
Bringing the timeline right up-to-date, recent developments have included a vaccine against cervical cancer, Herceptin for breast cancer and effective brain surgery for Parkinson’s disease.
We also look to the future: current research on stem cells and gene therapy for instance are rooted in animal research. They hold promise for spinal injury, cystic fibrosis, heart disease and many other unmet medical needs.
Medical research is difficult and complicated. There are rarely any quick wins and we must use all the ethical tools we have to conquer disease. The timeline comes full circle with the vision – perhaps still quite distant – of a vaccine for malaria. Unravelling the complex lifecycle of the malaria parasite over a century ago was just the first step in trying to prevent this killer disease.