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New Technology More Reliable and Ethical Than Animal Experiments

New Technology More Reliable and Ethical Than Animal Experiments

If you want to know how to cure diseases in humans, you want to test experimental treatments on whatever else is most similar. For years scientists have tested their hypotheses on non-human animals, like mice and rats. But extrapolating the results of medical and other scientific research from non-human animals to humans is a dubious undertaking at best. Other animals’ biologies are not the same as ours. They have similarities, often more than we like to admit, but not enough to draw reliable conclusions about the safety of medical interventions in human beings.

As reported by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, “Acetaminophen, for example, is poisonous to cats but is a therapeutic in humans; penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs but has been an invaluable tool in human medicine; morphine causes hyper-excitement in cats but has a calming effect in human patients; and oral contraceptives prolong blood-clotting times in dogs but increase a humanís risk of developing blood clots. Many more such examples exist.”

Not only are the results of animal experiments of limited use (if not downright dangerous), they are also cruel, painful and kill most of their subjects. 95% of the over 100 million animals who suffer and die in laboratories — this includes not just medical tests but food, cosmetic, chemical, and purely academic experiments — have no protection from cruelty. The federal Animal Welfare Act, which ostensibly protects animals in laboratories, doesn’t cover mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals. As long as a lab-affiliated committee approves an experiment, the experimenter can do whatever he or she wants to these living, feeling creatures.

Happily, some scientists have turned their attention towards creating more effective and ethical alternatives to vivisection, like computer models and tissue cultures that have more in common with human physiology than any animal does. The Harvard Crimson reports that researchers recently developed a device that “simulates the microenvironment of the human intestine by creating a miniaturized three-dimensional scaffold that supports growth and development of a patientís own cellsóeven including microbes essential for digestion and normal physiology.”

The lead researcher, Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Director Donald E. Ingber, said that one motive for his work is “the problem that animal testing really doesn’t accurately predict what happens in humans.” According to The Crimson, Ingber believes the new technology may allow scientists “to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of cellular pathways and medical prognoses.” It could be especially valuable for research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Harvard’s Assistant Director for Undergraduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering, Sujata Bhatia, said that the new device “does such a nice job of mimicking the actual environment of the intestine, it could be an amazing tool for both biomedical students and biomedical engineers.”

Ingber anticipates more devices that will improve upon and replace animal research, including technologies replicating human lungs and hearts and even the interactions among multiple organs. This is good news for animals and humans alike.

Related Stories:

Is Animal Testing Ever Okay?

Animal Experiments Increase in Labs

Urge the FDA to STOP Requiring Animal Experimentation on New Drugs!

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Photo credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

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231 comments

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3:01AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

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11:46PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

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4:43AM PDT on May 31, 2013

Animal testing is obsolete,unethical inaccurate and revolting.enough documentations are available on how horrendous and sadistic those experimentation are and only the animal abusers are defending vivisection ....enough is enough.most people ,vegan and non vegan alike want an end to animal cruelty .and the pro vivisection should get therapy for their sadistic urge to torture innocent animals.
Contact your Mp and representative to ask that your taxes won't go funding this disgusting practice and push for cruelty free research!

1:45PM PDT on May 29, 2013

animal testing & experimenting & abuse & cruelty is NEVER ACCEPTABLE.

11:53AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

If you liked this, please sign http://www.thepetitionsite.com/142/910/510/support-non-animal-research-safer-for-humans-and-animals/

1:36PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

I believe that in today's modern world with the technology we have, the alternatives all animals can be spared. I do agree that we need to have meds for our pets but most meds that humans use can be applied to our pets in different degree of dispensing or applying. Those that can't be means less animals use in lab testing but still use maybe terminal. There are excellent alternatives using programming, cultures, etc many. As far as meds for the humans well, why is it such a bad idea to consider using humans such as death row candidates? These criminals took from society by cold blooded killing of families, children. Rape horrific crimes. This is a way to give something back to society of what they took and to feel the pain suffering indirectly but by being told of what they did to these people. It may curb the violence. We need to ask ourselves why we pay so much for these criminals to have good lives in prison. They have colored tv, weight lifting, books to read even some get themselves education enough to get themselves out just to do all again. I don't believe in taking a life unless in self defense but they did and an eye for an eye ins' t so bad when they did the worse take a life which is against GOD it isn't so barbaric other countries adopt this and have less crime, violence. So, yes, animals need not be a part in experiments sense it is senseless they are nothing like us and those who can't be rehabilitated should be considered for lab experiments or shu

6:41AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:51AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

Ze C .......... Thank you for your "exposé" on the subject - very educational - but it still doesn't explain WHY animals are still being used WHERE THERE ARE VIABLE ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE !!! People have spent (in a lot of cases) the best part of their lives to INVENT these alternative testing "machines" ..... and nobody seems to want to use them, despite their being cheaper, easier to use, and (in most cases) more effective ..... LUDICROUS !!!

7:02AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Damn the character limit. Sorry for the multiple posts.

7:01AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

10. I was not aware that shelters SELL their euthanized animals to schools for teaching purposes. In my day, carcasses were donated, and the animals that were killed were not done so FOR the school; they would have been euthanized regardless. We kill billions of pet species in shelters every year due to people not being responsible enough to have their pets spayed and neutered. I feel that at least by giving these bodies to science their death is not totally in vain.

11. Veterinarians DO practice on live pet species during their training. I wouldn’t want my beloved pet to go under the knife of someone who had never done a surgery before, would you? Typically, animals used for surgical practice are euthanized before every waking up, or if they are allowed to recover, they are medicated with pain killers and sedatives to avoid pain and stress. Remember that veterinarians are in the business of making animals feel better, not torturing them.

I do not deny that there may be some researchers out there who truly do not care a fig about their animals, like there are those who do not care about their work in any field who do (how many bad child or adult care providers have been in the news over the years?), but I would be inclined to say that these are few and far between.

I agree that using animals in this manner is not ideal, and yes, even barbaric. However, I find the abuses in the food animal and fighting animals (dog and cock fighters, etc.) to be far worse, m

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