In the forced swim test, experimenters often dose mice or other small animals with a test substance, put them in sheer-sided containers of water, and watch them paddle furiously in search of an exit, desperately trying to keep their heads above the surface. At some point, they stop swimming and start floating. Experimenters time how long it takes for this to happen on the absurd assumption that this can tell us something about the psychological state of humans with clinical depression.
The test does nothing more than terrify animals and delay the development of effective new treatments for neurobehavioural conditions such as depression and stress, which are desperately needed.
King’s College London and the University of Adelaide in Australia as well as many major pharmaceutical companies have stopped subjecting animals to the forced swim test. It’s time others followed suit and invested in humane, human-relevant non-animal methods. Tell the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, and pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to make the switch.
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