Medicine has been dramatically development, especially in the last century. Animal experimentation has been used since the very first day of medical science such as Aristotle, (384 “ 322 BC) and Erasistratus, (304 “ 258 BC) (Hajar). There are 108 Nobel Prizes which rewarded for medicine and physiology since 1901 and 96 of those are directly base on the animal (The animal). Despite researching are focusing on particle and gene level, animal testings are still the standard steps to develop a new drug. Beside of that, demanding for basic rights is one of the features of developed societies.
Not only fighting for the human right but also for animal right, some organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) and the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research (AFAAR), etc were found to protest against activities which can harm the animal. In fact, these organizations have achieved some goals and contributed to a more humane society. However, especially in medical research, animal experimentations should be continuous because of valuable role, unbelievable biological similarities between animal and human and unreplaceable in some cases.
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Thanks to animal experimentation, since the very first day, human being have definitely achieved many meaningful progressions in biomedicine which help them get over historical pandemics, fighting diseases and keep healthy. Vaccination is one of obvious benefit from which human have earned. The smallpox pandemic, (1870-1874) spread throughout Europe and other continents caused a heavy fatality. Due to the disease, there were more than 170,000 deaths throughout German, more than 35,000 deaths in Belgium, 155,335 deaths in Austria(Rolleston).
Initially, they used humanized vaccine but could not afford the demand and even occasionally transmitted syphilis from person to person. Because of these, animal which were horses, mules, goats, rabbits were used to create a vaccine. It dramatically decreased the number of deaths and finally eradicated smallpox in 1977. Moreover, not only smallpox but also many other infective diseases have been controlled efficiently by vaccine since 1880 such as rabies in 1880, typhoid, cholera plague in 1890, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis in 1920, etc (Botting). The numbers have their voices that we can not reject the role of vaccine in healthcare in which animal is one of the major factors.
On the other hand, some people claim that animal experimentation is just wasting lives and these activities did not actually play any role in medical development. Most animal experiments are not relevant to human health, they do not contribute meaningfully to medical advances (Berlatshy). However, only by the proof vaccine, the claim seems to be overgeneralization and contradicts a lot of medical achievements which were meaningful to the history of human development. I cannot imagine what would have happened if they had not used an animal to create the vaccine. But why was an animal?
In experimentation, mostly, scientists try to find how a live body reacts to a specific stimulation. Because of ethical reasons, people cannot use human for testing so that animals have been used as a replacement due to similarities between animal and human. In 1937, ?Elixir Sulfanilamide’ was created by a pharmaceutical company in the USA and caused the deaths of more than a hundred people. The reason of deaths was found that was diethylene glycol (DEG) as a solvent of the medicine. DEG was poisonous to humans, but the company was not aware of this.
Notably, no animal testing was done before the product was allowed to sell (Hajar). Besides that, if we look animal and human in biological view, we will surprise that there are similarities that we cannot ever imagine such as lung, heart, kidney, intestine, bladder etc. and even in the same designs. 90% of veterinary medicines are the same as, or very similar to human’s medicine. Moreover, it is interesting that we have 90% gene in common with a mouse that we can use to study gene and related diseases or treatments (The Animal). Because of these reasons, according to FDA, in five steps of the drug development process, in vivo is the second step that must be done to find out whether it has the potential to cause serious harm before testing on human(The Drug). Animal testing is one of an indispensable part in new medicine invention.
Human being and other animals are obviously different species. Animal rights advocates assume these species-differences as differences in respondent to a stimulation or a drug to persuade people to stop using animal test for medical purposes. Taking a healthy being from a completely different species, artificially inducing a condition that he or she would never normally contract, keeping him or her in an unnatural and distressful environment, and trying to apply the results to naturally occurring diseases in human beings is dubious at best(Berlatshy). Of course, different species do not have perfect similarities. Nevertheless, a lot of respondents of the animal were the same to human’s respondents to a drug or a stimulation.
Unless the respondents were almost the same, there could not be a 90% similarity between veterinary medicine and human medicine(The Animal). Heart diseases and related diseases are deathly causes in the US. Studies with dogs contributed to our most basic understanding of how to manage heart disease. Techniques to diagnose the workings of the heart- electrocardiography, cardiac catheters, angiograms, and coronary blood flow measurement were developed through research using dogs as were surgical techniques such as cardiac bypass angioplasty, and heart transplants (The American). Undeniably, there are close similarities between human and animal in biological aspects which we reasonably use and get a lot of benefits in medical research.
Moreover, scientists are also humans which have emotions, love, and compassion upon the animal. By scientific innovations, scientists have been trying to use an alternative method for experimentation. Using animal is only when they have no any other choice. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, scientists do have the alternatives to animal testing by the 3R principle which are Replace, Reduce and Refine. Alternative methods are supported by U.S law such as Animal Welfare Act, Public Health Service (PHS) Policy, NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, ICCVAM Authorization Act of 2000, Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act(Alternatives). However, in some specific cases, the animal is the only choice. As a neuroscientist, using a non-animal model to study how the brain controls limbs are limit.
Only by using macaques to study, we achieved some understanding which relevant to human diseases (Baker). All of these policies are to make sure that alternative must be considered before the process. In the example of macaques, scientists cannot achieve anything if they just processed on cells or simulation because we need to study how the whole system acts, not a neural cell.
Some people claimed that alternatives should take place of animal experimentation. Human clinical and epidemiological studies, human tissue- and cell-based research methods, cadavers, sophisticated high-fidelity human patient simulators, and computational models are more reliable, more precise, less expensive, and more humane than animal experiments(Berlatshy). In spite of that, this is right but just haft of the truth. Because we cannot always have an alternative. As I wrote above, in some specific purposes, cases, animals are still the only choice. In vitro testing cannot replace animal testing altogether. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward: a drug might work fine on a cell in a test tube, but how will it work in a body? A test tube has no blood circulatory system, no liver, no brain, and no nervous system at all. A test tube cannot feel pain or get pregnant (Do). Haft of a truth is not a truth. Animal experimentation isn’t able replaced completely, at least, until now.
Ordinarily, because of ethical and legal reasons, alternative methods which are challenging goals must be considered seriously. Despite this, animal experimentations should be continuous, especially in medical researches, because of the meaningful role base on biological similarities between animal and human and for some specific purposes, the animal is a unique choice. The denial of the importance of animals in research into the nature and treatment of infective diseases, and the insistence of animal rights groups that economic and social change is the sole cause of the decrease in morbidity and death from infection cannot be sustained (Botting).
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