It is one of the central aims of the philosophy of science to elucidate the meanings of scientific terms and also to think critically about their application. The focus of this essay is the scientific term predict and whether there is credible evidence that animal models, especially in toxicology and pathophysiology, can be used to predict human outcomes. Whether animals can be used to predict human response to drugs and other chemicals is apparently a contentious issue. However, when one empirically analyzes animal models using scientific tools they fall far short of being able to predict human responses. This is not surprising considering what we have learned from fields such evolutionary and developmental biology, gene regulation and expression, epigenetics, complexity theory, and comparative genomics.
Shanks, N., Greek, R. & Greek, J. Are animal models predictive for humans?. Philos Ethics Humanit Med 4, 2 (2009) doi:10.1186/1747-5341-4-2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1747-5341-4-2