Animal testing is one of those super opinionated/political/ avoided topics and very understandably so.
Like everything in life, animal testing has its pros and cons, its just a matter of which are more important to you. This is one of the topics that I am torn between the pros and cons. In my mind, the biggest pro to animal testing is seeing something work “in vivo” rather than just “in vitro” aka seeing whatever is being tested worked on a living animal- whether it harms it or saves it. Why is this important? Well modern medicine needs test subjects, and unfortunately humans are not allowed to volunteer. (We have prisons filled with potential volunteers right? hahahah I am a terrible person)
The main con is that they are animals, living creatures, who have done nothing wrong and could die from the experiments put into them. Huge clash of interests here I know.
I am currently doing research and yes I am using mice. Although not this kind….the ones I work with are bald (athymic) and look like this:
Regardless it is a constant battle on whether or not I should feel any guilt with these guys. They were bred for the sole purpose of this research I am working on, and likely wouldn’t be alive otherwise, but at the same time, they have short lives and are being used for research. Now granted the research would greatly help the medicinal world, I am still torn.
I am not the only one with research animals on the brain either, this is a topic that needs more light, at at the same time, research that doesn’t involve animals needs to be given a chance as well.
Non-animal research needs more support
This week the Home Office publishes its annual statistics for scientific procedures on animals. If recent trends are repeated, we are likely to see yet another increase in animal use. As scientists, we believe reducing and replacing animal use is not simply a legal or ethical imperative. Other compelling drivers include the urgent need for more human-relevant research results to improve disappointing clinical success rates for new medicines, innovation as an economic stimulus, and remaining competitive with global science leaders.
A host of powerful human-biology-based cellular, genomic and computational tools are available that can often better predict people’s real-world reactions to drugs and chemicals than conventional animal tests. For many of us, replacing, reducing and refining animal experiments is driven by a desire to develop better approaches to researching human illness. Research innovation can bring huge societal benefits by improving the speed, reliability and human-relevance of the tools we use to answer biomedical questions.
Britain has, in recent years, increased investment in non-animal research. But there is still much more we could do to lead the world. The EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation funding provides an opportunity for Britain to demonstrate that leadership. We urge the UK government to support substantial, dedicated funding for emerging and future alternative technologies including such endeavours as mapping the “human toxome”.
While there remains much vital debate within the scientific community about the efficacy of animal use, we scientists will undoubtedly be better equipped to tackle the major human health challenges of the 21st century if there is increased funding and support for sophisticated, human-relevant research.
What are your feelings on the subject?