Success stories

Animal research and its benefits for humans

Basic research is not aimed at developing specific applications, but at creating knowledge which can then be translated into applications. In order to understand how nature works, however, scientists need to study animals. Biologists cannot carry out research without living organisms, in the same way that astronomers cannot carry out their investigations without studying the stars, or meteorologists without studying the climate. Such insights often also lead to new ideas, for example, for medical treatments because what makes animals ill is also often harmful to humans.

There are countless examples of how animal experiments have led to new medical treatment methods, such as the discovery of the rhesus factor in the blood of rhesus monkeys or the discovery of tumor-suppressing genes in the genome of the mouse. Nevertheless, no one can predict which findings will one day lead to medical therapies. Sometimes the ideas for new applications come from unexpected research areas, even for specialists, and often the period from insight until application takes years or even decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, experiments at the Max Planck Institute for Virus Research created the basis for today's vaccinations against animal diseases that can also be dangerous to humans.

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