Human Exceptionalism

Why We Need Animal Research

Animal rights activists–as opposed to animal welfare proponents–universally oppose all medical research no matter how beneficial to human health and well being. Some admit that research provides benefits, but others–like PETA–lie, claiming that because  there isn’t a 100% correlation between what happens in an animal and a human, research not only has no benefits, but causes great harm.

That might be true if the drug or technique went directly from the research lab to your doctor’s office. But, of course, it doesn’t.  IF a technique or drug passes animal experiments and non animal testing such as on tissue lines or in computer models, it STILL faces years of human subject testing before it makes it to the clinic.

But too often, researchers–perhaps afraid of the vituperation and worse that can come their way from animal rights extremists–don’t discuss the issue in public.  Here’s  an exception, a very good column written by animal researcher Nancy Haigwood. From her column:

So what drives animal researchers like me?  Simply put, our view is that because animal studies lead to improved human health, they should be considered acceptable — provided the studies are highly regulated, the animals are well cared for and suffering is not allowed. This is not a unique view. It’s also shared by the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What have these guiding principles resulted in? Here are advancements from various labs in the past three weeks alone:

–Mouse research has revealed how a genetic mutation may cause Parkinson’s disease.

–Research with ducks has revealed a gene that might potentially shield humans from the flu.  –Researchers studying mice have learned that insulin-producing cells can be reborn in the body — a significant finding for those with Type 1 diabetes.

–A blood-flow study in zebrafish has highlighted a possible method for suppressing cancer tumor growth.

–A mouse study has suggested a new theory for the cause of Down syndrome: missing proteins in the brain.

–A rodent study has revealed that the anti-nausea drug Dramamine could be used during a heart attack to prevent heart damage

–And finally, as The Oregonian reported on April 2, monkey studies at Oregon Health & Science University have solved one of the key mysteries about infections resulting from the virus cytomegalovirus, a disease that causes brain damage to 8,000 newborns each year.

Haigwood notes that regardless of non animal testing, at some point researchers need to test ideas and new treatments in a living organism.  To protect people, it must be animals first.  Not only is such testing required by the Nuremberg Code as an important human rights protection, but that method saves lives.

Read the whole column. It will put fly to the lie of animal rightists that animal research serves no useful human purpose.

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