Knowledge for the benefit of humans and animals

The urge to discover new things and understand the world is as old as humanity itself. The pursuit of knowledge is a moral obligation, because it gives people the ability to recognize the consequences of their actions - and only those who know the consequences of their actions can act responsibly.

However, basic biological and medical research not only serves to gain knowledge, it is also a prerequisite for the development of new methods of diagnosing and treating diseases. For example, there would be no mRNA-based vaccine against the coronavirus if basic research on mice had not established several decades ago that injected mRNA can be taken up and read by the body's own cells. Subsequent basic research, including again using experimental animals, then showed how this process could be improved by chemical modifications to the mRNA and the use of lipid nanoparticles.

Researchers also study many processes in so-called reaction vessels, i.e. the modern successor to the test tube, or with methods that use cultured cells or simulate organs. However, these methods alone are not sufficient to elucidate important questions. For example, how different cell types interact in the immune response to an infection or how factors regulate blood pressure can currently only be studied in a living organism - and that usually means through animal experiments.

Scientists therefore study the interaction of molecules, cells and organs in specially bred laboratory animals if they cannot study the processes directly in humans for ethical reasons. This is made possible by the great biological similarity between humans and animals; their genes, cells and organs very often perform similar or identical tasks. Many diseases that threaten humans also occur in animals: Dogs suffer from diabetes, mice and rats from hypertension, cancer and infections. Despite differences between humans and animals, basic research can thus lead to new treatments - even for the animals themselves. Almost 90 percent of all drugs used in humans and pets are identical.

On these pages you will learn which research topics we work on, which alternative methods to animal experiments we use, and how we implement animal welfare.

  1. Biomedical Research at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine
  2. Project Group "White Paper - Animal Research in the Max Planck Society”
  3. White Paper on Animal Research
  4. Animal Husbandry and Welfare


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