The Problem with Lab Mice

The Problem with Lab Mice

Mouse trials are easy, cheap and apply to humans less than 80% of the time.

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69 Responses

  1. Ham III says:

    When a person used the word “science” as a buzzword, you can pretty much assume they’re not from a scientific field and can’t come up with more specific terminology for what they’re trying to talk about on their own.

  2. Darryl Hamlin says:

    Do Adam Ruins Adam Ruins Everything.

  3. Jason Mckay says:

    Everybody knows rodent testing isn’t perfect but we have to start somewhere. And for some reason people care very little about mice. Sure testing on larger closer animals would be best but when we use chimps psychopaths hurt humans to free them. You can’t test on humans because do no harm/lawsuits. Rabbit and other small animals are too cute and cuddley and are no more effective. Mice are quick to breed and easy to store. Let us test on chimps and the results would be better but people would cry.

    • Friday We Are Awesome says:

      Jason Mckay Youre aren’t wrong, but i would still would feel worse if chimps were tested on cause they have a tad better understanding (Wahrnehmung?) for reality. πŸ™
      Even if it is just guilty pleasure.

    • Jason Mckay says:

      Friday We Are Awesome I totally feel you on the chimps. I feel the same way about mice actually but we have to test on something or nothing will get done. I just didn’t like how Adam was talking like their were SO many better options. And that Dr they had on is insane if she thinks anyone will let her experiment on people just cuz.

    • 08aoc says:

      Jason Mckay maybe you should do research in Asia where theres no such things as Animal welfare or ethics.

  4. Nope why says:

    You made quite a mistake on this episode
    we study human cancer on mouse, typically you xenograft human cancer cells to immunocompromised mouse. (even with physiological difference you can get basic results for cancer cell-antitumor drug interaction) it is more like medium for human cancer cells, it is not mouse’s tumor that we research about but human cells. And you just cherry picked niche animal models to justify your viewpoint, Good job adam

    • G M says:

      Nope why This comment deserves more likes

    • YourOwnage says:

      Yaaaay teratoma assay. Haha when i read about it i had to laugh about how fucked up it is, but still saves shitload of people

    • Me Cooper says:

      I would have said “They are not studying mice, they are studying cancer.” ….But I’ve done no real research into the concept… and I’m a highschool drop out…

      I’m basically just going with the assumption that people who have spent years being educated in biology wouldn’t be stupider than me and think mice and men are the same.

    • I Just Do It for The MEME says:

      Nope why I watch almost all episode of this show and trust me they make a lot of mistake.

  5. Galen Nedelchev says:

    The cancer drug one is not correct. They actually had much bigger doses than mice in relevance

    • zake881 says:

      ElectricXplorer you really think cancer treatment is free in the UK? Not for all types of cancer, otherwise why do we have charities like the clic Sargent who raise money to fund cancer nurses etc, cancer treatment is not free because they can make thousands off it…

    • SmithYorkinster says:

      I think they meant to say the concentration in units/kg and not the dosage.

  6. TheKalluto says:

    20% is a lot you know.

    Statistics can be tricky sometimes if you are not actually in the field

    • yieldmotherculture says:

      Thank you! I used to research Lupus and there has been 1 new drug approved in the last 50 years to treat the disease. 20% is pretty good in my opinion. Anything that gives us a leg up on treating humans is worth it.

  7. robizzlor says:

    I love this series. You should make another channel for this.

  8. mreeeeeigf says:

    As a neuro scientist ACTUALLY WORKING IN THE FIELD, this whole video is emberassing. No one says “rodents share so and so much DNA, so we’re alike”
    No one says “mice trials are practically human trials”
    The 80% figure is hugely misleading
    It’s not supposed to tell us if drugs work on humans! It’s supposed to tell us whether vertebrats can metabolize these drugs at all
    here in germany mice are super highly regulated, basically the same as higher mammals.
    we are “wasting ressources on mice” is the dumbest statement of them all, holy shit adam, please stay away from actual science

    • agusti92 says:

      rstlesswarrior this can be read two ways xDDD
      Was it on purpose?

    • Luke Douglass says:


      I won’t make comments about whether or not he brings a political bias into his videos, but even if it wasn’t when the whole basis of his show is supposed to be educational by poorly researching and promoting false ideas he’s doing everybody a disservice.

    • agusti92 says:

      Andre Gon Which frankly, on today’s world makes 0 sense, specially when touching science.

    • usucktoo says:

      Luke Douglass care to enlighten us on those misleading ideas that adam has brought upon viewers?

    • Shiun Horng Saw says:

      dude this show pointing out misconception of normal daily public dude, not people who expert in the field.
      what adam says is really the norm of the public tho.

  9. Austin Chan says:

    Why do I get the sense that this video is saying “stop testing on mice, do those dangerous tests on how humans.”

  10. Starach says:

    No scientist would say any of the stuff she said. I love this series, but this was misleading.

    We don’t test on mice to find out if a drug works for humans as the video over-simplisticly implied, we use it to in part as an initial test on a live organism to see how it reacts, a step up from tissue testing, and as a baseline for the experimental treatment. The part about them being cheap is true, they are easy to keep, breed and customise. They an essential stage in drug testing, we can’t go straight from tissue tests straight to human trials, there has to be a live organism as an intermediary.
    We ARE testing on human cells of course, but you can never test a drug too thoroughly, so mice are still used. Their importance varies on what they are bing used for, they are mostly irrelevant in some drug development, in others they are an essential step.

    I look forward to when we don’t need to use mice. Science is all about change, when it becomes feasible and safe to stop using mice, it will happen (hopefully soon).

    • Starach says:

      Having worked in a lab I can tell you that there are strict rules about how we handle and take care of the mice, one of the first things we learnt at Uni was how to handle and care for Lab animals. They may be widely used for things not allowed on other animals, but it is certainly not done unnecessarily or with cruel intent.

  11. Sae-ouk Oh says:

    I find this video misleading and downright insulting to the medical profession. We have a process for a reason. Scientists didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and thought “we should test on rats first!” That would be stupid. We don’t just randomly giving drugs to patients without any knowledge of the potential side-effects.
    What are you suggesting we should do? Do pharmaceutical trials using human test subjects from the beginning? Clinical trials have different stages for a reason. Animal testing is simply phase 1 trials. Only those drugs deemed safe at this stage can move on to stages 2 and 3, which involve human testing. You know why? Because the majority of drugs do not even pass stage 1 trials because they either do not work at all or have side-effects deemed unacceptable. Would you rather we expose humans to potentially lethal trial drugs without any safety testing? All the “wasted” drugs do not progress further for a reason. It’s better we do initial safety testing on rats than on humans. Yes. Humans and mice are vastly different and can react in very different ways. But we test on mice because otherwise we would have a lot more dead/dying humans.
    And the part about being easy to induce mutations? That’s the point. We need to be able to test drugs for very specific conditions, many of which are rare. You will be hard pressed to find enough test subjects if you wanted to start with humans. It’s better to selectively breed large populations of mice with the traits we want and do initial testing on them.
    Good luck getting your trials through any ethics board without some form of animal trials showing potential effects.

    • FunkyTikiGod says:

      So true, I’m glad I’m seeing so many comments like this. Hopefully most viewers will see them and realise how wrong this video is.

    • William Wilkinson says:

      Pushing animal rights bullshit and it’s not hard to tell

    • Sae-ouk Oh says:

      It just pisses me off that people think this is a valid argument. I’m all for animal rights, but the simple fact of the matter is that we cannot anticipate every single effect and interaction new drugs can have on the human body, and when it comes to human lives versus animal lives, ethically, humans will always come out on top. There’s no way around that. Even if it’s a single human put against a million mice, from a medical ethical viewpoint, we will choose to save the one human life every single time. Because that’s what medicine is about. Saving and improving human lives.

    • 08aoc says:

      Sae-ouk Oh The point Adam is actually making is testing on mice is useless and a waste of money. Also statistically almost a third of research has incorrect findings from a lack of statistical inferences on the results which leads to outlier results to be removed and shifted in order to get any sort of significance. Low sample size and a lack of statistical analysis results in findings that just clearly have no relevance. Sure if you have a hypothetical cocktail drug and want to see if it kills an animal then fire away with mice but all that is going to say is a its eithet lethal or safe for mice and b further trials are required. Its not going to provide any results applicable to humans, and further experimental drugs have many stages incrementally changing the animal to a closer relative to humans and take years to develop.

    • Sae-ouk Oh says:

      I know what his point is. But here’s the thing. It’s useless to point out flaws in a system which everyone knows is flawed, but remains due to lack of an alternative, and then not suggest any solutions to the problem. We are well aware that testing on mice often does not correlate with results in humans, but it is better to have a vague idea of what it can do than not have any idea at all. Claiming that “testing on mice is useless and a waste of money” and then being unable to provide any alternative that is more efficient and cost-effective does not help with anything. Pharmaceutical research is about weighing the pros and cons. The entire medical field relies on the risk to benefit ratio, be it using a certain drug or performing a certain surgery. Until such a time when we are able to develop a more effective method of testing novel drugs without involving humans in the initial safety testing, the practice of using mice will persist.

      And I’m glad that you brought up the issue about low sample size. Let’s talk about that. Pharmaceutical companies don’t only work on drugs for common conditions. We have countless drugs on the market targeting common diseases, and the newer drugs on the market eliminate many problems with the older drugs, so there is benefit in developing new drugs for these conditions, but they also develop drugs for rarer conditions. Some conditions are extremely rare, with incidences reaching 1 in hundreds of thousands, some even millions. Now, it would be impossible to run a large-scale clinical trial for drugs targeting these conditions, which often limits the trials that we can conduct. It is simply not feasible to test drugs for these diseases completely in humans, and it is downright dangerous to even attempt this without initial non-human trials. In these cases, it is extremely important that we make some effort to cut out as many potentially dangerous, even lethal, drugs as we can before we start giving them to humans.

      Yes, results in mice differ from results in humans. But that is why pharmaceutical trials have three phases. Phase I is initial testing in animals. Once a drug passes phase I, it can move on to phase II trials, which involves testing in a small, select number of humans. Participants in this phase are often reimbursed for the risks they take, as there could still be any number of side effects. If the drug passes phase II, only then can it proceed to phase III trials, which is larger scale human testing, where statistical inferences can be drawn to a reliable degree. One might argue that we could use computer models to run simulations, but that has innumerable limitations of its own. Pharmaceutical companies do often use computer models to develop drugs that are tailored specifically for certain targets. However, it is impossible to create a model complex enough to take everything into account. In reality, interactions between processes occurring within the body, various organ systems, and the drug itself can turn out to be vastly different from what we see in computer models. It is therefore imperative that some form of real world testing is done before exposing humans to any new drug.

      The entire medical community knows the limitations of the current method of testing new drugs. It’s not some big secret that everyone keeps quiet about. But the absence of a viable solution forces us to continue with the current practice. We accept that it has its flaws, but we choose to rather use some extra resources to make it as safe as possible before commencing human testing, as, above all, it is for the benefit of people that we develop new drugs.

  12. Dawei Tang says:

    I loved Adam ruins everything…up until this one.
    How would you keep the cost down and efficiency up if you just jump straight to human trials for all the drugs being developed?
    One extreme case of mice trial failure does not reject the practice of using rodent trials.
    And it’s not as if there are not human trials after rodent trials are passed!

  13. Nope why says:

    You are wrong adam.

    J Young Pharm. 2010 Jul-Sep; 2(3): 332–336.
    doi: 10.4103/0975-1483.66810

    It was Theralizumab, and was trialed on primates and showed some T-cell proliferation (which might lead to danger)
    and researchers knew it and acknowledged those patients. It was just a critical last step failure caused by hasted procedure, they did not properly calculate the right dose and injected too fast.

  14. UnPhayzable says:

    Those mice have better fashion sense than me

  15. DarkRoyal HyperPrime says:

    I learned nothing *_NOTHING_*

  16. DownPour says:

    This. Is. Bullshit. πŸ™‚

  17. thebahooplamaster says:

    So when you turn into a mouse, you keep your hair style?

  18. Grace Motley says:

    What should we test on instead of mice, then?

  19. Nuovoswiss says:

    This seems dumb, as it doesn’t suggest an alternative. Sure, mice have flaws as test subjects, but (as they point out) there aren’t any good alternatives. So while it’s not ideal that 80% of results don’t apply to humans, would you rather endanger a large number of humans (or chimps) to boost those numbers?

  20. wtfdinges says:

    As someone who has worked with mice in both Europe and China, I can confirm that more than 80% of the results are not necessarily applicable to humans. However! Notice the word ‘necessarily’. As the studies are performed on mice, researchers are generally not allowed to claim it works on humans in the same manner. This doesn’t mean it will definitely not work, it only means it has not been tested on humans, which in return means the researchers cannot make that claim.

    Besides that, about half of all experiments on mice are not meant as tests of human treatment, but rather experiments to understand biological principles. Take my research for example: optogenetics. Most of my research on mice is focused on the understanding of signalling pathways within or between cells. I often don’t care whether or not my experiments will also work on humans, I only care about the new knowledge about cell biology we gain from it. Of course this knowledge might lead to new ways of treating human diseases as we understand cell biology better, but that is an indirect result which will not count towards the statistics which are mentioned by Adam here.

    Although I enjoy ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ a lot, it is often just as misleading as the original view the public had before watching it.

    • Lord Kiyo says:

      Kinda cool to see people in the field make comments. I’m just a common person but I know that Mice are not a mach up with humans. But I also know that much what Adam said was misleading. Which seems to be a trend he has been following

    • Mycel says:

      I wonder if we’re ever going to be able to predict drug effects via computer simulation if we gather sufficient data on the entire human metabolism… that would be very nice! and that would probably go hand in hand with tayloring treatment exactly to individuals based on DNA test and measuring of body functions. I guess aspects of that are much closer than simulating the entire organism enough go virtually test new drugs.

    • agusti92 says:

      Mycel you need to fully understand something in order to simulate it. Specially because simulations need simplifications, in order for a computer to be able to calculate it in a timely manner.

    • Mycel says:

      @agust92: I know that, which is why I wrote “if we gather sufficient data on the human metabolism”.

    • mutantdylan says:

      That’s the issue though. If over 80% doesn’t apply to humans, what is the purpose? It is highly inefficient and costs a lot of money. If we tested directly on human cells instead of using mice as a middle man, new and improved drugs would come out faster, in theory.

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