Why do researchers study animals?

Gila monster

Studies of Gila monster saliva led to the development of exenatide, a drug that helps people with type 2 diabetes maintain stable glucose levels and lose weight.

Researchers study animals to learn more about how living organisms work and how diseases affect the body. Biological processes are surprisingly similar across different organisms so researchers can learn about biological processes by studying simple organisms. What we now know about genetics began in the garden of a 19th century Austrian monk: Gregor Mendel identified the fundamental laws of inheritance by observing pea plants. Later researchers learned more about how genes work by studying bacteria, yeast, worms, fruit flies, and mice.

Animals get many diseases similar to ones that affect people. By studying these animals, medical researchers can learn what causes diseases and how to prevent, treat, or cure them. These findings help both humans and animals. Researchers also study animals to understand how they adapt to different environments. This can help threatened or endangered species.

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