Comparative medicine and translational research

Comparative medicine is a discipline in which the similarities and differences in biology among animal species are studied to enhance the understanding of mechanisms of human and animal disease. Comparative medicine facilitates the translation of basic science knowledge into clinical applications.

Animals with naturally occurring disease provide an underutilized 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. Clinical trials may better predict human response and therapeutic safety;
  3. Both human beings and animals benefit; 

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 comparative medicine research focus