Animal Medical Research Essay, Research Paper
Animal Medical Research
During the past century, mankind has made vital and historical medical breakthroughs in prolonging and improving the quality of life by using animals during biomedical research. For example, according to “Animal Research: The Search For Life Saving Answers” by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, “People are living at least 20 years longer thanks to research (with animals) that has led to the control of most infectious diseases”. In spite of this remarkable advancement, animal right activists question the validity of using animals, challenging the moral and ethic issues it raises. Their argument rests on the dogma that the lives of animals equate to human lives and therefore using them is a profound violation of animal rights. In addition, animal right advocates insist that cell and culture tissure can bring about similar results instead of using living creatures. While animal experimentation may appear heartless, the truth is, if mankind is to continue on the road to significant medical progress and to improve life, then researchers must be allowed to rely on the utilization of animals in the development of vaccines, medications and in the progression and improvement of surgical procedures.
Biomedical research has brought about countless benefits to both humans and beasts. Not only have treatments been developed for man, but many medicines have also been discovered for animals too. Many may picture biomedical research involving a mad scientist performing gastly experiments on poor defenseless creatures. On the contrary, animal experimentation was developed for a purpose and to enhance life. According to Lane in “Banning Animal Testing May Be Hazardous To Your Health” the four major goals of animal research are: 1)To provide “knowledge” and to prevent and treat diseases; 2) To use animals as “models for the study of actual diseases”; 3) ” to test potential therapies, diagnostic and surgical procedures, and medical devices”; 4) To test whether or not a newly developed drug is safe and effective.
At one time vivisection, which is the dissection of an animal while it is still alive, was a common practice when it came to studying animals. Today, however, great lengths are taken to ensure that an animal is not caused any undue pain or suffering. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that “53 percent of the animals are used in research that involves no pain” and another “35 percent of the animals feel no pain because of receiving pain-killing drugs”.
Today, many rodents are used in virology, which involves breeding to provide hosts for viruses . At least 90 percent of animals used involve rats, mice or other rodents. It is because of their small size, low cost and ease in handling that make them an ideal choice for laboratory experiments.
Because of the forceful battle that the animal rights movement presses, the research establishment has found it difficult to continue in its pursuit of medical advancement. Ten years ago, in a case called “The Spring Monkey Case”, which has been hailed by animal rights activists as a gross example of animal cruelty, a research lab was raided by police for the first time in history. At the time, Dr. Edward Taub was in charge at the Institute for Behaviorial Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. A college student, named Alex Pacheco, volunteered to work for Dr. Taub during the summer. It was during this time that Pacheco claims that the lab was in deplorable condition. Unfortunately for Dr. Taub, who was away on vacation at the time, the lab was raided when Pacheco turned in photographs he had taken to the police. Taub and an assistant were charged with 119 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. His assistant was later aquitted, however, Taub was convicted of six counts of failing to provide sufficient veterinary care to six of the monkeys. Later, on appeal, 5 of the counts were dismissed and it was during a second appeal that, finally, the last charge was dropped. It was sometime after that that three national scientific societies took it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation regarding Dr. Taub’s research. They all exhonerated him of all charges and in 1986, he was hired as a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Taub’s research had involved using monkeys to use their limbs, eventhough nerves which led from the brain to the arms, had been surgically sliced. Taub’s research encouraged the monkeys to use their arms which were still highly functional, but deadened. As a result of his studies, it has now been discovered that the brain is capable of compensating when it has been damaged by injury. Undeniably, Taub’s research would not have been so successful had he not used animals in his research.
During the past century, biomedical research using animals has been the primary source for many of today’s medical advances. Such breakthroughs include antibiotics for treating bacterial infections, vaccines for small pox, tetanus, chicken pox, polio, measles and lyme disease. How many animal advocates would refuse being vaccinated for these potentially deadly diseases? Also anti-coagulants, chemotherapy for cancer patients, discovery of the HIV virus and drugs that control the progression of AIDS. All these discoveries made possible through animal medical experimentation. For this reason, biomedical research on animals should continue in order to help both humans and animals alike live productive and healthy lives.
The practice of experimenting on animals began in the first century due to the fact that the Church forbade carrying out autopsies on people. A scientist, named Galen, began using animals in his experiments. While many of his theories were later proven inaccurate, he however, brought to light what would now be possible during our time.
At the beginning of this century, between 1900-1940, we have had the discoveries of insulin, the prevention of tetanus, the prevention of diptheria and antibiotics all through animal testing. Between 1950-1990 we have had the discovery of the prevention of polio, the discovery of DNA, the discovery of tranquilizers, the prevention of rubella, organ transplant advances and gene therapy for cystic fibrosis ; all revealed through the use of studies on beasts. If animal research is halted or detained because of animal rights supporters, human life and animal life will not be able to adavance in its quest for quality and healthy living.
For years, animal rights advocates have tried, often extremely, to end biomedical research on animals. For the reason that this type of inquiry involves living creatures, many question the morality and ethic issue. Animal rights activists oppose animal experimentation claiming adamantly that it is unethical and morally wrong. The concept behind moral and ethic issues pertains to conduct that involves a system of ideas and rules which define right and wrong. Right, pertaining to any sort of conduct which complies to the principles and rules of morality, and wrong, is all conduct that strays from these principles. In this case, according to animal liberation followers, research and experimentation on animals being definitely wrong. The conception that an animal has morals and ethic rights is farfetched. Major differences arise between man and beast making man far more superior; contrary to the belief that animal rights advocates hold of creatures equating humans. Animals lack the capacity for free moral judgement, therefore are not capable for either exercising or responding to moral claims. Animals do not possess the same mental processing as people do. They do not make decisions on the course of life, they do not plan for the future and they definitely do not have the mental power to equate man on any logical level. The concept that animal testing should be banned because it imposes on an animals rights is an idea that is totally without meaning. The rights and freedom of people take priority over beasts. Humans have begun revolutions to aquire their freedom and rights. In this case, having the right to find life saving treatments and cures even if, at times, it may cause discomfort and pain to the subject. While it is true that, at times, pain is part of the experiment, only about 12 percent of these procedures are carried out. Research such as this is needed in order to study pain, which at the moment, is a major health problem for humans and for animals alike. Every advance in the medical field must sooner or later be tried on a living being. Whether it be a new drug or a new surgical procedure, that trial will be performed, if not on an animal, then a human, before it is released to the public. If the subject is human, this is when the morality and ethic issue would preside, not on a non-human being. Because animals are living creatures, as are people, they are for the moment, the best substitute for aiding in medical advances. By forbidding research on animals, this will inevitably reduce many medical advances that so many depend on with their lives.
Over the years, much debate has also centered on the alternative method of using beasts in research. According to animal liberation advocates, many tests can be performed using cell cultures grown in test tubes. It is true that often cell cultures can prove to be very valuable, such as in using white blood cells in test tubes and infecting them with the AIDS virus. Afterwards, chemicals are introduced and the cells are inspected to see whether or not the virus is growing. However, tests like these are often only used at the preliminary stages of an experiment. Also, cell cultures are isolated tests, which can only produce isolated results. Cell cultures cannot solely predict the outcome of a particular drug or experiment. This obviously is not enough information to determine the drug’s effects between cells and whole body organs. In additon, sugical procedures cannot be performed on cells alone. Another area too, in which animal are used is in behavioral research, which is impossible to determine from cell and tissure cultures. Studies of behavioral and psychological analysis, which laid the foundation for this type of research, involved a dog. This has now come to be a tremendous asset to many blind people who need sight-seeing guides and also in the study of psychological traumas including food, such as anorexia nervosa. It is because of this that animals need to continue to be used because cell and tissue cultures are not adequate enough for experimentation.
For centuries, mankind has had many struggles all in the pursuit of a quality life. Many times, this has and will involve using animals in biomedical research. This may include methods that cause discordance among animal rights activists and biomedical researchers. However, history has shown the tremendous gains mankind has aquired from experimentation and research in animals alone. True, there may be many setbacks when experiments fail or a new drug proves to be dangererous to humans. Such as in the well known case of a drug called thalidomide released in the 1950’s. Women were given this drug for morning sickness during their pregnancy. The babies of these women were born with birth defects consisting of very shortened arms and legs. Eventhough these drugs had demonstrated no previous effects on animal fetuses the opposite was true with human fetuses. On the other hand, we can clearly see the benefits that have been developed through vaccines for our children, treatments for cancer patients and in saving lives through organ transplants. Interestingly too, the drug thalidomide has now been recognized for its possible capabilities in treating other disorders or diseases. For example, it has been shown to help AIDS patients with serious mouth ulcers. Using animals in research to save humans and make for a better life, may sound unethical and cruel to many, however, while sicknesses and diseases continue to be rampant, animals will be needed to find cures and save lives.