CLAUDIA TARRY is incorrect to suggest that animal experiments are either archaic or useless in medical, veterinary and scientific experiments (HAS, July 22).

Humans, plants and animals share a great deal of genetic material, and we share about 90 per cent of our genes with mice, the study of which is some of the most advanced science in the world.

To date, genetic research has given us insights into disease that have allowed new treatments to previously untreatable diseases.

Last year, researchers cured gerbils that had been deaf since birth by injecting stem cells into their ears. If we can develop this treatment for humans, which will be challenging, I would argue it was well worth breeding a deaf gerbil.

It is illegal to use an animal in the UK if there is an alternative and, while we should never deny the possibility of animal suffering in a lab setting, it is important that we balance the costs and the benefits and do not exaggerate either.

Administering a solution with the same ph as orange juice to a mouse under anaesthetic, or inducing a mild electrical tingling, is not quite summed up by activists’ hyperbolic tales of acid injections and electrocution.

The benefits of animal research are also not limited to humans, with treatments such as the badger TB vaccine relying upon these methods. In fact, more than 176,000 experiments were undertaken to improve veterinary treatment in 2012.

Chris Magee, Understanding Animal Research, London.