Animal testing should no longer be practiced because it is unethical, the results can be misleading, and alternatives are available. It is widely known animal testing injures and kills many animals each year for the sake of the humans that may use the products. According to preventative medicine/public health specialist Aysha Akhtar, worldwide over 15 million animals are used in experimentation and often suffer, even though alternatives to animal testing exist.
According to ProCon. org, “animals used in experiments are commonly subjected to force feeding, … ood and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, the infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, [and] the infliction of pain to study its effects and remedies… ” Although there is an act designed to protect animals, the Animal Welfare Act, this act has failed in preventing animal abuse in labs. In a federally funded research center in Louisiana, the Humane Society of the United States discovered 338 possible violations of this act. Some of the primates at this Research Center were in such extreme cases of psychological distress they, “store] gaping wounds into their arms and legs.
Further, birds, fish, rats, and mice are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act but comprise roughly 95% of the animals used in laboratories. Those animals are especially susceptible to mistreatment and abuse. Although experiments should contain a hypothesis and should randomize the selection of animals, many do not. A study performed in 2009 revealed that only 13% of publicly funded research involving rodents and primates, randomized the animal selection and 41% stated the hypothesis. This indicates that these animals died or suffered for the sake of poor research.
Performing experiments on animals often has the unintended outcome of pursuing the use of a chemical that is dangerous to humans or abandoning a chemical that could be beneficial to many. An analysis performed by Cruelty-Free International revealed that using animals such as rats, and mice in to test the safety of drugs on people are only accurate 43% of the time. Aysha Akhtar asserts that although some researchers claim some information, is better than no information this idea fails to acknowledge, “misleading information can be worse than no information from animal tests.
For example, tamoxifen would have been quickly abandoned if in the animal trials it had been discovered that it could cause liver tumors in rats rather than being discovered when it had been on the market for many years, this drug is now considered one of the most effective drugs against specific types of breast cancer. In another case, a drug now used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), cancer in the cells that make red blood cells, showed adverse reactions in at least five different animal species. However, when predictive human-based tests were performed, the drug was determined to be safe for humans.
If current practices for animal testing had been in place decades ago humans would not have drugs like aspirin or penicillin, which are toxic to many animals used in laboratory testing. In addition according to ProCon. org, “94% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human clinical trials. ” According to Aysha Akhtar, the sleeping pill thalidomide was tested on pregnant and non-pregnant animals and only caused birth defects when given in high doses, yet caused 10,000 human babies to be born with severe deformities.
Further, Vioxx, an arthritis medication, caused over 27,000 heart attacks and cardiac deaths before it was pulled from the market, but in mice it had protective effects on hearts. It is widely known that many diseases differ between humans and animals if they appear in animals at all. According to Cruelty-Free International, animals do not get many of the same diseases humans do if they do they are often different between humans and animals. Researchers often attempt to replicate these complex human diseases in animals.
However, these experiments, “belittle the complexity of human conditions which are affected by wide-ranging variables such as genetics, socioeconomic factors, deeply-rooted psychological issues and different personal experiences. ” In addition according to Aysha Akhtar illnesses like stroke are complex, but are fairly well understood in humans; however, replicating human like strokes in animals is a difficult process. Researchers thought they had replicated human strokes in animals and created a drug to cure them, NXY-059.
This ultimately failed in human trials, even though it was hugely successful in animals. To replicate the causes of osteoporosis researchers clamp or clot the blood vessels of research animals. This underestimates the complexity of human illness. The inability to replicate complex illnesses has lead to a high failure rate in drug development. It is clear that each human and animal species do not have the same physyology and thus it makes sense they do not have the same gene expression. According to Aysha Akhtar, humans, and many mammals have some of the same genes, but they are not all expresses the same way.
To get around these differences, scientists attempt to make animals, specifically mice, more like humans. However, even in the genes are altered they are often still not used in the same way in the animals they would be in humans. In some strains of mice altering a gene could cause death, but in others changing the same gene, in the same way, could be benign. Even Chimpanzees, which share 98% of their genes with humans, are not recommended to be used as test subjects. According to NEAVES, The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests not testing on chimpanzees.
They came to this conclusion because according to Aysha Akhtar, “A lot of time, energy and money have been spent studying HIV in chimpanzees and other NHPs [non-human primates]. Yet all of about 90 animal-tested HIV vaccines failed in humans. ” There is a movement to move away from animal testing and find and use alternatives to testing drugs. According to the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research, there has been a framework set for developing alternatives to animals in research.
This framework is often called the 3Rs and contains, Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement. Replacement covers methods that replace the use of animals, “in an experiment where they would have otherwise been used. ” Reduction covers methods which reduce the amount of animals used per a study by getting the same amount of animals. Some way to do this would be to improve experimental designs and statistical analysis and share analysis between groups. Refinement covers methods which reduce the suffering, either emotionally or physically, by the animals.
This covers everything from the housing of the animals to the procedures performed on them. Some ways to achieve this would train animals to cooperate with procedures, like blood sampling, giving the animals appropriate housing, and using anesthetics. Scientists have developed alternatives to animal testing that follow the 3 R’s. To still test the drugs on living beings, micro-dosing is used. According to PETA, microdosing is a method of testing drugs in which small doses are delivered to human volunteers.
The amount given to the volunteers is not enough to cause an adverse reaction but is enough for the researchers to gather information on how the chemical reacts with human cells and the human body. According to ProCon. org, in vitro testing is another option as an alternative to animal testing, this involves observing cells in a petri dish and recording the reactions the cells have to the chemicals being tested. In vitro testing is less expensive than animal testing. For example DNA analysis in an animal can cost about $32,000 whereas the equivalent test for the in vitro alternative only costs $11,000.
Further, to test products that would touch human skin journalist Geoff Watts proposes artificial human skin as an alternative. A product called EpiDermTM Tissue Model is on the market for research laboratories. This product is, “a 3-dimensional, human cellderived skin model that replicates key traits of normal human skin. ” Although the artificial skin is not made of live cells like other alternatives, it has been proven to be an effective alternative to animal testing.
The movement away from animal testing has developed further, not just in the public and scientific community, but in the government as well. In June of 2016, President Barack Obama signed a law which revised the Toxic Substances Control Act. This Act now discourages using vertebrates in animal testing and requires the Environmental Protection Agency to promote a database of alternative testing methods. This is the first time the federal government has explicitly taken a stand on animal testing.