Drug Discov Ther. 2012;6(4):226-229. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2012.v6.4.226)
Animal welfare and use of silkworm as a model animal.
Sekimizu N, Paudel A, Hamamoto H
Sacrificing model animals is required for developing effective drugs before being used in human beings. In Japan today, at least 4,210,000 mice and other mammals are sacrificed to a total of 6,140,000 per year for the purpose of medical studies. All the animals treated in Japan, including test animals, are managed under control of "Act on Welfare and Management of Animals". Under the principle of this Act, no person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty on animals without due cause. "Animal" addressed in the Act can be defined as a "vertebrate animal". If we can make use of invertebrate animals in testing instead of vertebrate ones, that would be a remarkable solution for the issue of animal welfare. Furthermore, there are numerous advantages of using invertebrate animal models: less space and small equipment are enough for taking care of a large number of animals and thus are cost-effective, they can be easily handled, and many biological processes and genes are conserved between mammals and invertebrates. Today, many invertebrates have been used as animal models, but silkworms have many beneficial traits compared to mammals as well as other insects. In a Genome Pharmaceutical Institute's study, we were able to achieve a lot making use of silkworms as model animals. We would like to suggest that pharmaceutical companies and institutes consider the use of the silkworm as a model animal which is efficacious both for financial value by cost cutting and ethical aspects in animals' welfare.