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  • The value of animal experiments for predicting the effectiveness of treatment strategies in clinical trials has remained controversial, mainly because of a recurrent failure of interventions apparently promising in animal models to translate to the clinic.
  • Translational failure may be explained in part by methodological flaws in animal studies, leading to systematic bias and thereby to inadequate data and incorrect conclusions about efficacy.
  • Failures also result because of critical disparities, usually disease specific, between the animal models and the clinical trials testing the treatment strategy.
  • Systematic review and meta-analysis of animal studies may aid in the selection of the most promising treatment strategies for clinical trials.
  • Publication bias may account for one-third or more of the efficacy reported in systematic reviews of animal stroke studies, and probably also plays a substantial role in the experimental literature for other diseases.
  • We provide recommendations for the reporting of aspects of study quality in publications of comparisons of treatment strategies in animal models of disease.


This Research in Translation discusses the following new study published in PLoS Biology:

Sena ES, van der Worp HB, Bath PMW, Howells DW, Macleod MR (2010) Publication bias in reports of animal stroke studies leads to major overstatement of efficacy. PLoS Biol 8(3): e1000344. doi:10.1371/journal. pbio.1000344

Publication bias confounds attempts to use systematic reviews to assess the efficacy of various interventions tested in experiments modeling acute ischemic stroke, leading to a 30% overstatement of efficacy of interventions tested in animals.