ANNAPOLIS, Maryland —The Maryland legislature just passed a bill to establish the Human-Relevant Research Fund. This bill will provide grants to scientists in Maryland who are developing non-animal research methods. The first of its kind in the nation, HB 626/SB 560 is funded through a dedicated mandatory contribution paid annually by facilities in Maryland that are using certain animals in research.
The world is moving toward a future dominated by sophisticated research methods that use human-relevant technologies to create experiments that do not rely on animals. Animal tests were developed decades ago and have severe limitations that will never improve. Extensive evidence demonstrates that results from toxicity tests in animals often don’t accurately predict toxicity in humans. In fact, approximately 90% of drugs tested on animals ultimately fail in human trials. An estimated half of that failure rate is due to unexpected toxicity in humans following animal tests where no toxicity was observed.
Non-animal methods, such as organ-on-a-chip technologies, human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer modelling, represent the very latest techniques that science has to offer. These revolutionary methods provide countless possibilities to increase our understanding and treatment of the human body and will only continue to improve over time. The fund will accelerate the development of additional scientific discoveries.
“With Gov. Wes Moore’s signature, Maryland can become the first state in the nation to establish a human-relevant research fund, showing the legislature‘s commitment to shift funding and technological development away from animal studies and toward non-animal methods,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Bonnie Cullison for their leadership and commend Maryland universities for their willingness to contribute to this important fund. This passage demonstrates that Maryland is positioning itself as a leader in both the future of biotechnology and animal protection.”
Because many non-animal methods are based on human biology, they are more accurate predictors of human responses to drugs, chemicals and treatments. Ultimately, moving away from antiquated animal experiments is better for both humans and animals, and early adoption of promising human-relevant research will give Maryland a competitive advantage in the biotech market.
- Emily Snow Ehrhorn