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Animal Research: Is it Necessary?

iStock_000015264919SmallDrugs and treatments that are saving lives today are available to you and your family because of animal-based research. Yet animal rights supporters argue that animals aren’t necessary. However, researchers in the past and present have always looked for the most efficient and accurate models of drug discovery, and regardless of how much people want to argue about it, those methods have- and still do- involve animals.

Is it possible to gain the same results without animal research? For past research studies, this question is irrelevant. Animals have been crucial in the understanding of disease and in the development of drugs and treatments. No argument will change the fact that insulin, chemotherapy, joint replacements, and organ transplants (to name a few) were made possible through animal research. At the time of each of these developments, researchers used the best models available to them. Because of this, these advancements were developed as quickly as possible. All of these discoveries relied on animals because they were the best models for each of these respective types of research at the time. Without these models, is it possible that the same drugs and treatments would have been developed at some point? We don’t know. What we do know is that if researchers hadn’t used the best models available to them, the timeline for drug and treatment discovery would have been much longer. In 1922, insulin was first used to treat diabetic patients. At the time, diabetic children were kept in hospital wards where they often became comatose and slowly died. Without research in dogs, insulin development- if it was able to be developed at all- certainly would have been delayed, resulting in many more deaths.

In many cases, animals are still the best models for drug and treatment discovery. Currently, researchers are working on treatments and cures for pediatric cancers, blood disorders, rare diseases, and illnesses that affect millions of people. There’s a race to find cures and treatments for thousands of diseases, and researchers have every incentive to use the best options available to them to save lives as quickly as possible. The fact is that many of these research studies involve animals.

In the future, maybe we’ll be able to develop drugs and treatments of the same caliber without animals in the equation. That’s the goal, isn’t it? As an animal lover, I would certainly prefer it if animals weren’t necessary in research. But as a people lover, I am thankful that researchers and animals are working towards cures. You and I should want researchers to take advantage of the best models possible for drug and treatment discovery. If you have a loved one suffering from disease or illness, do you want to jeopardize their chance for a cure by sidestepping the most reliable research methods currently available? I certainly don’t.

Are animals still necessary in research? Right now, yes. Animal research is definitely a hot topic for debate, but nothing can be said that will negate the extremely valuable contributions made by animals in the past OR the continued contributions that are presently taking place. Until more efficient models for drug discovery are developed, animals continue to play an integral role in the quest to find cures for YOU and your loved ones.

Are there animals in YOUR medicine cabinet?

Dog and pills.How have animals helped YOU today? If you’re not familiar with research, you might not have any idea. But did you know that most of our medical advances wouldn’t have been possible without animals? It’s amazing to learn about the ways they’ve helped us!

Antibiotic ointment, aspirin, cold medicines, penicillin, anti-depressants, blood pressure and cholesterol medications, insulin, anti-coagulants, anesthesia, HIV drugs, chemotherapy, dialysis, CT scans, MRIs, prosthetics, organ transplants, and thousands of other medications and procedures were developed and determined to be safe for your use, thanks to dedicated researchers and the animals they work with.

The list goes on. I will guarantee that every person reading this has benefited from at least some of these advances. What’s more, I’ll bet your pets have benefited as well! And that’s a wonderful thing! Think of the symptoms we can alleviate due to medications, the life-threatening emergencies that we can SURVIVE, and the illnesses that our children may never get, thanks to vaccines. Polio, measles, cervical cancer, rabies, chicken pox, whooping cough, tetanus, Hepatitis B- and that’s just the beginning of the list!

EMBRACE it. Be thankful for it. The next time you reach into your medicine cabinet, take a minute to think about the scientific advances that led to the development of the medication that’s about to help you!