Comparative Medicine and Translational Research

Comment on this policy

Comparative medicine is a discipline in which the similarities and differences in biology among animals enhance the understanding of mechanisms of human and animal disease alike. In this way, biomedical research, clinical studies, and, ultimately, therapy directed at experimentally induced and spontaneously occurring diseases in animals forms the basis for animal models of human and animal disease. Comparative medicine translates basic science knowledge into applied clinical information.

Animals with naturally occurring disease provide a largely untapped comparative medicine resource. Advantages of using animals with spontaneously occurring disease, compared with using animals with experimentally induced disease, include:

  1. Disease pathogenesis is often more similar to that in human beings,
  2. Therapeutic trials may better predict human response,
  3. Development of safe and effective vaccines,
  4. Both human beings and animals benefit, and
  5. Experimental animal use is reduced.

Therefore, the AVMA supports applying knowledge gained from animals with spontaneously occurring disease to enhance the development of new diagnostic tools, vaccines, and therapies for human beings and animals. This will require development of a national research infrastructure to support comparative animal research, including enhanced funding sources for domestic animal research, development of domestic animal disease databases, development of consortia to perform clinical trials, and implementation of strategies to increase the number of veterinarians with laboratory animal medicine focus.