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Testing and researching on something is known as experimentation. For centuries people have been testing and experimenting medicines on animals for the cure of certain diseases and then to apply the results on human beings. This approach is more traditional and less scientific in its behavior. Animal testing is a doubtful, inefficient and more or less a cruel technique. Whereas, non-animal techniques are more accurate, less time consuming and humane in manner. So, now the debate on this issue is increasing day by day and there is a number of doctors, scientists and researchers who tend to shift from these old techniques to more efficient, non-animal techniques. Animal testing has helped us in some of our researches but often it is misleading and less credible. Its failure outweighs its advantages and thus puts questions on its reliability. As new techniques are most logical so we should shift towards them.

Scientific history tells us that animal testing was done widely all over the world. According to the Greeks’ writing animal testing was started in second century and Aristotle was the first who used animals for experimenting for the very first time. Galen used to dissect pigs and goats, today he is known as the father of vivisection. Other animals which were used for experiments are mice, dogs, cats, rats, files, monkeys, primates.

Animal testing is done on false premises. They completely differ from human beings in many aspects of their life. They have different species. Their metabolic system is dissimilar to that of human beings. Life span of animals is also different. So, we can not apply the research achieved from animal testing to human beings. It will create doubtful results. Animal and human beings have different systems and these drugs will also have different effects. There have been many instances in the past when the drugs obtained from animal testing proved harmful to human beings. They not only failed to cure the disease but also caused side effects. For example the drug Thalidomide was introduced in 1970s in the markets of Germany. It was prepared from animal testing. It was meant to provide energy to pregnant and breast feeding women. But it served the converse. It affected the offspring of these women. Many deformed babies were born and many died. Another case came into sight when Clioquinal was brought in Japan. This drug was also a result of animal testing. Its purpose was to provide relief from diarrhea. But it also failed badly. It not only failed to cure diarrhea but even caused diarrhea itself and other extreme side effects of dangerous diseases of paralysis and blindness.

Some people argue that these cases were exceptions and animal testing served well as a whole. But facts and figures prove that the case was other way round. These drugs often caused side effects. According to an estimate every four person out of ten suffered from side effects. Lindane is used for treating lice and scabies. It was tested on rabbits. It proved to be non-irritative and curing for rabbits but caused irritation to eyes and respiratory passages of sensitive human beings.(in text)  Now a day many scientists and doctors also have the same opinion that animal testing gives doubtful results because of difference in systems of human beings and animals.

There is a misconception in people that if we stop animal testing, we will not be able to make progress in the field of medicine. Then the research will be done at the expense of human lives. But this concept has proved to be false. The method of medicine testing has developed a lot and scientists have come across many alternatives to animal testing. The new testing methods are more accurate, efficient and reliable. For instance, Embryonic stem cell test which uses mouse-derived cells to assess potential toxicity to developing embryos. It has been validated as a replacement for birth-defect testing in rabbits and rats. Another one is Photo toxicity test using cultured cells to cure the sun-light irritation to the skin. Human skin model test is also a good advancement. It has proved its importance universally as a replacement for skin decay studies in rabbits. Moreover clinical patch test in human volunteers is also used to confirm that a chemical will not cause irritation to skins. Thus we can use these methods and serve two purposes: animals can be saved and more accurate results can be derived.

Animal testing also often proves to be misleading. Most of the time we spend our resources and money on animal testing for the cure of certain diseases. We succeed in curing these diseases in thousands of animals and tests prove to be successful. Animal testing has contributed a lot towards the cure of small diseases and has helped in medical advancement. But in the cases of large diseases like cancer, heart problems and AIDS, this research fails to help us. When we try these medicines on human beings, they not only fail but even cause more severe side effects. In this way all of our time and money gets wasted. All research ends up futile and the whole time we spent on that research goes wasted. According to former scientific executive of Huntingdon Life Sciences “animal tests and human results agree only five to twenty-five percent of the time”.(in text)  So with the advancement of modern techniques, we should employ them in order to save our time and money and the lives of animals and human beings together.

Although these animal researches have shown many benefits for the whole mankind but they prove to be merciless for animals. A number of animals die in laboratory regularly because of experiments by researchers. These animals get tortured when so many cosmetics, drugs and other toxics are tried on them. The isolation of laboratories and the environment of social distraction is also harmful for animals. Surveys by the foreign agency reveal that in US about hundred million mice and 1014 animals are used in laboratories. Canada used 2.32 million animals in 2005, in which 50% were used for curiosity-driven researches, 35% for medical researches, 11% for testing and 4% were used for education purposes. It was also found from the report that in 2005, 167,000 animals in Canada were subjected to so much toxic experiments that caused severe pain. In UK, about 2.54 million experiments are done annually on animals, in which 51% are done for curiosity driven researches, 43% for veterinary researches, 4.3% for experimentation and 1.7% are done for teaching purposes. This report showed that hundreds of millions of animals are used throughout the world, which not only causes severe pain to animals but sometimes these animals are euthanized after being experimented.

         Comparative study of human beings leads to find out real causes of human diseases and these researches can be applied on other humans also because they all have same systems. This can also help to devise preventive measures. Epidemiological studies revealed the relationship between cancer and smoking and it came into view that there is no relation between them (Christopher). Likewise, the studies on human beings regarding AIDS also demonstrated the transmission of AIDS and other epidemic diseases from one person to another. It also helped to avoid this transmission. But animal testing did not provide any sound results regarding its handling and prevention. It has been reported by the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that “more than eighty percent HIV vaccines that have been tested on animals have failed in human beings treatment”. (Clinical trial of HIV vaccines). A review of ten randomly chosen animal models revealed that they made a little contribution in the cure of diseases but often mislead the research.

        Willing persons suffering from a certain disease should be used as an alternative for the animal testing. The results produced from these researches will be more accurate as human beings have the same systems. It can also be used to devise preservative measures for this disease. This will save our lot of time and money. According to survey, every year, US vivisection industries spend more than eighteen billion dollars on animal experiments. US health section is world’s largest source that funds animal testing. We can save such huge amount of money by using the alternatives.

        There are a number of diseases whose remedies have been discovered without any animal testing or experimentation. These medicines are serving their purpose very well. Many phenomenons have been discovered with no testing on animals. Some are; production of Humulin, which is superior for human health than animal-derived sources, development of x-rays, the transmission mechanism of HIV virus and discovery of penicillin. So, if these medicines can be made, we can make many other as well. We should try to use the alternatives instead of just realizing on animal testing.

Written By: Nabeel Riaz (LUMS)

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