By Michael Brunt
Recently a post was written to dispel the myth that animals do not naturally suffer from the same diseases as humans. I thought it appropriate to address another commonly held myth: that animals do not benefit from animal research.
The medications and therapies people use could only have been developed through biomedical research. It is important to realize that we are quite similar to animals sharing nearly 99% of our genes with a mouse, for example. Many of these therapies are developed for and used in both human and veterinary medicine. The One Health Initiative is an excellent example of the partnership that exists between scientists, physicians and veterinarians. These partnerships recognize the importance of collaborative efforts to treat disease and alleviate suffering irrespective of species.
Kiwi was adopted into my family at the age of two. She was welcomed and celebrated as the first addition to our family. A year later we had the pleasure to expand our family again and adopt Kiwi’s sister Karla. Life moves along at such a quick pace until unexpected news makes time stand still. Unfortunately, at the age of six Kiwi was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and the news was devastating. Kiwi was extremely lucky to have had access to an outstanding veterinary oncologist who recommended a treatment program of chlorambucil and prednisone that allowed her to live a clinically normal life for an additional six years. The drug combination that Kiwi was prescribed is one of the chemotherapeutic drug combinations that can be used to treat CLL in humans. Without these treatments my daughter would not have known and had such joyful memories of the first member added to our family.
More recently Kiwi’s sister Karla, at the age of thirteen, began to be treated for canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). An aged companion animal can develop many similar age related neurological disorders as old humans. Karla had a very gradual increase in aged related behaviours including indoor urination, disorientation, confusion, staring, wandering, getting stuck in corners, sleep pattern disturbances, restlessness, barking, separation anxiety, drooling and obsessive licking which cumulatively had a significant impacted on her wellbeing. Karla has been on a daily treatment of selegiline for nearly one year and it has dramatically improved her wellbeing and resolved most of her symptoms. Selegiline is also used in human medicine to treat Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia and depressive disorders.
Biomedical research provides benefits to all aspects of medicine. Working together scientists, physicians and veterinarians improve the lives of countless millions of animals and humans around the world.