Lost in translation: animal models and clinical trials in cancer treatment

Am J Transl Res. 2014 Jan 15;6(2):114-8. eCollection 2014.


Due to practical and ethical concerns associated with human experimentation, animal models have been essential in cancer research. However, the average rate of successful translation from animal models to clinical cancer trials is less than 8%. Animal models are limited in their ability to mimic the extremely complex process of human carcinogenesis, physiology and progression. Therefore the safety and efficacy identified in animal studies is generally not translated to human trials. Animal models can serve as an important source of in vivo information, but alternative translational approaches have emerged that may eventually replace the link between in vitro studies and clinical applications. This review summarizes the current state of animal model translation to clinical practice, and offers some explanations for the general lack of success in this process. In addition, some alternative strategies to the classic in vivo approach are discussed.

Keywords: Animal models; cancer; clinical trials; review; translational studies.

Publication types

  • Review