Animal testing, also known as animal research and animal experimentation is the use of animal in scientific experiments or research. It is used to develop medical treatments, determine the toxicity of medications, check the safety of products destined for human use, and other biomedical commercial, and health care uses. Animals testing have been performed repeatedly throughout the history of scientific research. But in recent years, the practice of using animals for research has come under severe criticism by animal right and environment protection group. Some people think animal testing has enabled the development of many life-saving treatments for both human and animals, other think that it is cruel and inhumane to experiment on animals. Present director of Department of Cardiology Cardiothoracic Surgery in Qatar, Rachel Hajar introduced why animal research is necessary and the importance of animal testing to biomedical research in her article “Animal Testing and Medicine”(Hajar, 2011). Whereas, Kelly Overton, who is the executive director of People Protecting Animal and Their Habitats in Cambridge, criticizes and reveals the issue of animal testing in her article “Stop Animal Testing”, by giving examples on how animal testing is ineffective because humans and animals have different physiologies (Overton, 2006). Both sources argue appropriate points, and they both pose the question: Is animal testing necessary?
In Hajar’s article “Animal Testing and Medicine”, the author refers a statement from Claude Bernard, known as the father of physiology, that “experiments on animals are entirely conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man. The effects of these substances are the same on man as on animals, save for differences in degree.” Hajar believes that animals are appropriate research subjects because they are similar to human being. They are susceptible to many of the same conditions(Hajar, 2011). But in Overton’s Stop Animal Testing, she argues that the use of animal for development of human medication and disease almost always fails, simply because human and animal have different physiologies. She introduced that adult stem cell research is more effective, compared with animal testing, because there are no complication or failures related to tissue rejection. Adult stem cells are present in all growing human issue. Overton gives an example that the adult stem cells research have shown success in treating cardiac infarction, Crohn’s disease and thalassemia(Overton, 2006).
On one hand, some people believe that the elimination of animal testing will significantly set back the development of essential medical devices, medicines, and treatment. Hajar gave an example in her article “Animal Testing and Medicine” about a tragic drug incidents. This “free of animal testing drug” was proclaimed a ‘wonder drug’ for insomnia, cough, cold and headaches when it was first introduced in the late 1950s. However, thousands of pregnant women took the drug to relieve the morning sickness symptoms, because it was found to have an effect it. This cause more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with malformation(Hajar, 2011). Hajar used this example to underline the importance of animal research to prevent human tragedy. She points out the practice of using animals in biomedical research has led to significant advances in the treatment of various diseases. On the other hands, Overton states that alternative testing method now exist that can replace the need for animals, with the rapidly development of technology. Pharmacy researchers Sonali Doke and Shashikant Dhawale introduced couple alternative testing methods that can replace animal testing in their book called ” Alternatives to Animal Testing”. For example, vitro testing, such as studying cell cultures in a petri dish, can produce more relevant results than animal testing because human cells can be used. Besides, artificial human skin, such as the commercially available product of EpiDerm and ThinCert, is made from sheets of human skin cells grown in test tube and can produce more useful result than testing chemicals on animal skin. Microfluidic chips is another alternative testing method. It is a chips that lined with human cells and recreate the functions of human organs( Doke ; Dhawale, 2015).
Issue such as ‘cruelty’ to animal the humane treatment of animal are reasonable concern, and hence, the use of animal in experiment is greatly regulated. There are the “3R” rules applied in animal testing field. The first one is replacement, which is for the replacement of animals with non-living models. The second one is reduction in the use of animal. Refinement of animal use practices is the third one. Lastly, Hajar contents that the total ban of animal research will slow the development of treatment for devastating illnesses dramatically. By applying the 3Rs when continuing to use animals for scientific research, the community then can affirm its moral conscience as well as further the advancement of science for civilization and humanity(Overton, 2006). Dr. David Katz, a director at Yale University Prevention Research Center who has worked with a wide range of vaccine developers and other experimental researchers, says the prevailing opinion is best described as conflicted. But rather than prohibition, most scientists speak of an irreducible minimum(Ericson, 2014)
Ultimately, both Hajar and Overton’s articles have great point about the pros and cons of animal testing. Hajar supports her claim by giving evidence and examples on the importance of animal experimentation to avoid human tragedy. Overton proves her points by appeasing the audience with the positive outcomes of technology which can replace animal testing. I think the authors equally and profoundly address the question of whether animal testing is necessary or not.