Manyscientists believe animal testing, when performed “ethically”, provides themost accurate results because “our DNA is like most animals”. The questionresulting from this belief is, what is “ethical” animal testing? Scientificallyspeaking, our research must come from somewhere.
How are we to test medicationsfor diseases before approving them for mass consumption? Ethical animal testingis supposed to be last resort. Scientists must meet certain criteria to”ethically” test their products or hypothesis on animals. Animals are not strictly used for testingmedication on diseases before we use them for human consumption. They are alsoused to test food additives, cosmetic products and household cleaner safety (NationalResearch Council, 2004).
Agencies in charge of overseeing the differentprocesses include the Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product SafetyCommission, Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and HealthAdministration (National Research Council, 2004). Testing on animals is nottaken lightly in today’s society. Many product producers pride themselves onnot testing on animals.
Some consumers look for “cruelty free” on theirproducts thinking that this means the product was not tested on animals.Cruelty free can mean that the ingredients of the product were tested onanimals separately and the final product was not test on animals (NationalResearch Council, 2004). This can be misleading for consumers. The reality ofit is that animal testing is necessary for some products and not for others.
Productsare tested on animals before humans for safety purposes. Before a product canpass regulations to be sold, it must be proven that the product is safe andwill not cause harm to the consumer. Many advancements have been made todrastically reduce the need to test on animals with products such as cosmeticsand perfumes however, some products still require animal testing to prove theproduct is safe to use on humans (National Research Council, 2004). Testing on humans still occur such asclinical trials. Patients who are sick with no cure can opt to be a part ofclinical trials to try to find a cure. These trials, of course, must passseveral tests and go through the FDA to make sure it is ethically sound.Sometimes the trial helps and the doctors can find a cure, others no cure isfound.II.
Clinical Research Ethics A major ethical violation in historythat comes to many people’s minds the experiments performed by Nazi Germanyduring World War II. The list of inhumane unethical experiments performed bythe Nazi’s is very long. Some examples include: amputating patient’s limbs withno anesthesia to see the results of pain tolerance and the bodies reaction,blood coagulation experiments where the patients were given pills, that thedoctors believed would help clot the blood if injured, and then shot in theneck to see the results of the pill, hypothermia experiments, the list goes onand on. Experiments that the Nazi’s are mostly known for are the experimentsperformed on twins (Bundit, 2017). The Nazi’s goal was to eliminate every raceexcluding the Aryan race, what they believed to be the superior race. Dr.
JosefMengele, commonly known as the Angel of Death, performed experiments on twinsto study the heredity of their DNA, taking extensive measurements andperforming several blood tests (Bundit, 2017). Because of the unethical experimentsperformed by the Nazi’s, the Nuremberg Code was created. This code stated thatparticipants in clinical experiments must be voluntary (My CGU, 2016).Volunteers to the clinical experiment must have informed consent. Informedconsent is a way for the participants to be in control of what will and willnot happen to them (My CGU, 2016). With informed consent, the participants arevoluntary, informed of not only the experiment, but also the possible outcomesand they must understand and be comprehensive of the experiment and what ishappening (My CGU, 2016).
Informed consent is to protect the participants andmake sure they are safe and not blindsided by the experimenter(s). It isimportant to get this informed consent form signed before starting any part ofthe experiment to not only make sure the participant understands the experimentbut to also protect the experimenter from any backlash that comes from theexperiment. It protects both participant and performer of the experimentlegally and ethically. The Declaration of Helsinki was createdto protect participants who do not have the mental capacity to sign a consentform like a dementia patient, for example. These participants can only beconsidered appropriately informed if the participant’s representative, such asa caregiver, is informed and approves of the experiment (Wendler, 2017). If a participant who has signs an InformedConsent form without a representative present, that is not an appropriateexample of informed consent, and the form becomes invalid.
Forresearch involving humans at a University, the research must be approved andoverseen by the Institutional Review Board, or the IRB (Arizona State University,2018). The IRB ensures the participants are treated ethically and know theirrights in the experimentation process (Arizona State University, 2018). Beforean experiment can start, the IRB must approve the experiment and its methodsbefore the experimenter can even begin to look for participants (Arizona State University,2018). The experimenter must follow the strict guidelines given by the IRBthroughout the experiment.
Itis easy to tell if a research experiment was approved by an oversight committeewhile reading a scientific article by looking to see if it says it is a peerreviewed article. This means the research and research paper was reviewed by acommittee who is knowledgeable in the area being experimented and theinformation given in the article is based on data collected ethically. Peerreviewed articles are one of the highest reference points used while performingresearch medically. Angelo State Universities’ library webpage explains peerreviewed articles as: “Articlesare written by experts and are reviewed by several other experts in the fieldbefore the article is published in the journal in order to insure the article’squality.
” (Angelo State University, 2018). III.Use of Animals in Research In 2013, Harvard was fined for violating the Animal WelfareAct while using monkeys for research (Grant, 2013).
The animals were found tobe dehydrated due to neglect from the experimenters. The US Department ofAgriculture fined the University $24,000 as some animals had to be put down dueto dehydration (Grant, 2013). Harvard decided to shut down the Primate ResearchCenter afterwards due to financial reasons (Grant, 2013).
In 2012, EmoryUniversity was found guilty of violating the Animal Welfare act because anexperimenter returned a primate to a wrong cage resulting in the monkey’sdeath. Further investigation revealed numerous roaches in the monkey’s cages aswell as piles of feces (Orr, 2013). The Animal Welfare Act was passed in1966 to regulate the care of animals in research and experimentation. This is abroad act to protect animals from poor conditions, abuse and cruelty fromexperimenters.
This act however, doesnot cover animals such as rats, birds and mice raised for research as well asfarm animals raised for food (National Research Council, 2004). Universities that receive Public HealthService Funds must adhere to the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Careand Use of Laboratory Animals, or the PHS policy. This act is a broader actthan the Animal Welfare act in that it includes all animals with vertebra,including fish and reptiles (National Research Council, 2004).
The Institutional Animal Care and UseCommittee, or IACUC, oversees approving and overseeing institutions use andcare of animals (National Research Council, 2004). As a committee, they mustinspect the animal’s lab at least twice a year, approve and or disapproveresearch protocols, investigate claims of noncompliance of animal care, reportviolations of animal care and submit evaluation reports using animals to theinstitution (National Research Council, 2004). There are many misconceptions aboutusing animals for research. Not all experimenters are mad scientists whoneglect their animals and abuse them in the name of science. One of the biggestmisconceptions about experimentation on animals is that it is irrelevant andnot needed as animals are too different from humans to get an accurate resultin experimentation (Understanding Animal Research, 2017). Humans are mammalsand all mammals have a heart, lungs, brain, and so on (Understanding AnimalResearch, 2017).
This gives experimenters an accurate representation of how adrug can react to a nervous system, for example. Another huge misconception is thatlab animals are abused and made to suffer. This is by far not the truth.
Lawrequires researchers to minimize the stress and suffering of animals inresearch (Understanding Animal Research, 2017). Animal research is important inscientific discovery in that without it, we would not know most of the thingswe know or have most of the medications and vaccines that we have, withouthurting and risking human lives. Humans share 95% of the same DNA as humans(Understanding Animal Research, 2017). This DNA similarity helps scientistsunderstand the affects medications can have on humans before we give it to the humanpopulation. Since animals have similar DNA as humans, this means they aresusceptible to the same diseases and illnesses as us such as diabetes,blindness, the flu, etc.
This makes testing medication even more valuable as ifit can help the animals disease, we are closer to helping the disease in thehuman body. Another necessity is testing veterinary medication on animals.Without testing these medications, there would not be veterinary medicationsfor our pets (Understanding Animal Research, 2017). Animals are important to scientificresearch. Without experimentation on animals, we wouldn’t have many of ourmedical advancements that we have today that have saved countless human lives.
One advancement made thanks to animal experimentation is kidney and other organtransplants. While perfecting the kidney transplant, the issue was not so muchthe actual transplant, but rejection of the new organ. Experimentation onanimals helped the scientists understand the importance of immune suppressantdrugs to stop the immune system from rejecting the foreign organ.
Today,experiments are still being done on animals to help lessen the risks ofrejection for high risk patients (Burkhalter, 2016). Another advancement that we owe toanimal experimentation is the discovery of insulin. Many people around theworld suffer from diabetes. It was easy for scientists to discover that withouta pancreas, we would die. This is thanks to their experimentation on dogs. Whatwas harder for them to figure out was that insulin can help regulate bloodsugar.
The scientists continued their experimentation on dogs and rabbits untilfinally using insulin on human patients in 1922. Today, insulin experimentationcontinues in animals such as fish as we search to find a cure for diabetesinstead of a cure. Without animal experimentation, we would not have discoveredinsulin and known the proper use for it, for overdose can be fatal (Lankinen,2009). Laws are in place to keep scientistsethically in check while performing their experiments and clinical trials be iton animals or humans. These are to protect the patient/animal from unnecessaryharm or distress. With these guidelines followed, research is obtainedethically. This is important as results can be skewed if say an animals stresslevel was elevated due to unregulated living conditions.
Ethics in research shouldbe the experimenters first priority as there are several checks to ensure anethical experiment is being conducted.