Animal research and Parkinson's

We believe that the use of animals is currently essential in helping us improve treatments and find a cure for Parkinson's. But we're committed to minimising our use of animals in research.

This policy statement has been developed with advice and guidance from people affected by Parkinson's, health and social care professionals and other experts.  

What we think about animal research 

All people with Parkinson's need the hope that one day there will be a cure.
Martin, who has Parkinson's

There is an urgent need for ongoing research in order to advance our understanding of Parkinson's, improve treatments and ultimately find a cure.

The use of animals is currently an essential tool in this research.

But we are committed to the minimum possible use of animals and to ensuring the highest regulatory standards are maintained. 

Why we believe this

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's. Researchers are working to understand what causes the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain that leads to the onset of the condition.

The complex research necessary to make progress will only be successful if researchers are able to use animal models as part of an integrated research strategy. 

What do we mean by animal research? 

Medical research uses animal models to mimic aspects of a human medical condition. Animal models are living, non-human animals: for example, rodents, worms, fruit flies or fish. 

Using animal models allows researchers to test treatments or ideas and find out if they may work and are safe before they are tried in humans. 

What's the evidence?

The use of animals in research has contributed to many breakthroughs in our understanding of Parkinson's and the discovery of current treatments. This includes a key treatment, the drug levodopa.

The development of many promising Parkinson's drugs and new approaches, such as gene therapy, have involved initial testing in animal models.  

Full policy statement

Parkinson's UK policy statement: Use of animals in research (PDF, 392KB) 

As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) we fully support their position statement on the use of animals in research. 

An image of brain cells grown in the lab

Find out more about animal research

Read our Understanding animal research (PDF,1.5MB) document. 

This contains frequently asked questions and quotes from members of our Research Support Network.