Animal Research Saved Both My Dogs

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 with Cancer

Kiwi with cancer.

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. 

Karla

Karla with CDS

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.

Michael Brunt

23 responses to “Animal Research Saved Both My Dogs

  1. The same mistakes over and over again. Pfffffff……….

    1. Of course animals can benefit from animal research.
    That’s not an argument however for live animals being tested.
    Mr. Brunt himself took the responsibility for the cure of his animals in the same way as he would have done for his children.
    Few people offer their own animals for testing medicine – if any.

    2. “The medications and therapies people use could only have been developed through biomedical research.”
    Says omniscient mr. Brunt.
    I say: Michael Brunt for President.

    3. “It is important to realize that we are quite similar to animals sharing nearly 99% of our genes with a mouse, for example.”
    Exactly; that is why I am always promoting the idea of changing men into mice. There is so much scientific literature on mice that we could largely benefit from it.
    As mice we need less space and that is also a tremendous advantage for life on earth. Etc.

    4. Junhee Seok, et alia, ‘Genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases’ ( PNAS February 11, 2013 )

    5. CLL in adults (men) has very a bad prognosis. Children generally make a better chance of survival.

    6. Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Mark the word ‘canine’.
    Selegiline tempers the destruction of dopamine and furthers the function of levodopa.
    Not with liver or kidney problems.
    Side effects: headache, drowsyness, dyskinetics.

    • Thank you for agreeing with the purpose of my post: Debunking the myth that animals do not benifit from animal research. Agreeing to disagree can bring forth a benificial understanding of different points of view. However, the sarcastic tone you use to belittle selected quotes from this posting is conterproductive to informed discussion.

  2. The prognosis for CLL has actually improved substantially over the past couple of devades due to the development of new therapies, with most patients living for years -often decades- following diagnosis  http://www.onclive.com/publications/contemporary-oncology/2011/fall-2011/Rituximab-for-Chronic-Lymphocytic-Leukemia-in-Treatment-Nave-and-Treatment-Experienced-Patients

    These therapies may not be cures, but in many cases they successfully keep the disease in check. Of course gene therapy based approaches to treating CLL that are now in clinical trials -and which hase been discussed on this blog- do have the potential to cure the disease.

  3. @Michael Brunt: I apologize for my sarcastic tone. The question is that sometimes I lose patience. For example when I read: “The medications and therapies people use could only have been developed through biomedical research.” Including animal testing I suppose. How can you be so sure?
    It is not religion we are talking about.

    The same for the number of genes. Any number does not make man a mouse of, if you prefer, a chimpansee. You are abusing genetics for your own purpose, pseudo-argumenting.

    The supposition that animals do not benefit from animal research I have not advocated. It is like humans benefiting form human research. The difference is about ‘informed consent’.

    • Thank you Barend. I agree that it is very emotionally charging to think about the welfare of so many animals. I hope for a time when animal research models are not needed. However, at present I firmly believe the alternatives that we have such as computer modeling, micro-dosing, MRI scanning and in vitro testing are only capable of answering part of the question. The FAQ link @ http://speakingofresearch.com/facts/faq-about-animal-research/ fully explains how current in vitro and in vivo models are needed to complement each other.

      In a point above you also mentioned, Junhee Seok, et alia, ‘Genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases’ ( PNAS February 11, 2013 ). Please see http://speakingofresearch.com/2013/02/15/why-mice-may-succeed-in-research-when-a-single-mouse-falls-short/ which also addresses the NY Times article that stemmed from the publication.

      I believe in animal welfare. A full description comparing animal welfare and animal rights can be found @ http://speakingofresearch.com/2012/12/10/animal-rights-vs-animal-welfare-101-a-crash-course-for-legislators/ “Animal Welfare is based on the notion that we owe moral consideration to all living beings, but not equally. That our moral concern ought to be graded according to each species’ capacity for suffering. That all living beings must be treated humanely and without unnecessary suffering. In this view, there are cases where the interests of humans and non-human animals conflict where it is morally permissible to decide in favor of human beings. Such as their use to advance medical knowledge and human (and non-human) health.” I believe on this point we must agree to disagree.

      • @Michael Brunt: I wonder what you mean by calling yourself an ‘animal welfarist’. Evidently what you consider to be ‘compassion for animals’, is restricted within very narrow limits.
        To my opinion, this is as much as nothing. Word play. You try to ease your own personal conscience – at the cost of lab animals.

        The reaction you refer to by Mark Wanner concerning the criticism of the use of mice in research (PNAS article; Febr. 11, 2013) – - does it impress any other person but you, Michael Brunt?!
        It certainly does not impress me.

        The B6 mouse is widely used in experiments. Wanner now all of a sudden tries to lower its importance!
        He prefers to neglect that the PNAS-authors state that their research raises troubling questions about diseases “that involve the immune system, including cancer and heart disease.”

        Wanner quickly admits that “genetic diversity should be accounted for in future pre-clinical tests, and researchers need to pay greater attention to selecting the right model system to mimic human disease.”
        Thank you Mark!

        Another flaw in Wanners defense is the admittence that “engrafting human immune tissue into an experimental mouse system provides a much better platform for translational research.”
        If it were not so sad one would roar with laughter at the idea of changing mice into man. Why not the reverse: man into mice?

        Warrens last number of the show is that, without animal testing, “ we’ll have to live with the status quo”. The old trick of trying to fright people.
        I do not understand how a mentally health person (like mr. Wanner) can write such nonsense.
        Animal testing will stop – research won’t.

      • Animal Welfarism is not narrow, word play or “as much as nothing”. It is well established and academically accepted by ethicists as a valid moral view point. You would have noted that if you had indeed investigated and invested in understanding my point of view. I am interested in furthering informed discussion with a willingness to accept other points of views. I will not participate further in this discussion where you seem consumed with telling me why you’re right and I’m wrong.

      • Dear Mr. Brunt,

        The only thing I do is following a few of your references and commenting to it.
        I just give my opinion, thereby in a language that is not my native. I am taking all of these efforts only on behalf of the animals – not on your or mine behalf as you will understand.

        I read this about animal welfare. (your reference: http://speakingofresearch.com/2012/12/10/animal-rights-vs-animal-welfare-101-a-crash-course-for-legislators/)

        “Animal welfare is based on the notion that we owe moral consideration to all living beings, but not equally.
        That our moral concern ought to be graded according to each species’ capacity for suffering.
        That all living beings must be treated humanely and without unnecessary suffering.
        In this view, there are cases where the interests of humans and non-human animals conflict where it is morally permissible to decide in favor of human beings.
        Such as their use to advance medical knowledge and human (and non-human) health.”

        I think these premises are scandalous. Moral concern is here made dependent of one’s capacity of suffering! This is an abuse of Jeremy Bentham’s statement that all living beings have the capacity to suffer. He meant to say that for example not one’s intelligence is distinctive, as was and is held by many uneducated people.

        Having said this, to my opinion the leading principle furthermore should be caring, doing well. At least respecting.

        Animals should not be abused for human purposes. As PETA formulates: “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way.”

        A criminal person should be punished all right. But (s)he should not be taken to death.
        Even more so the suspect should not be tortured, as we (almost) all agree.

        Civilisation sets limits to our emotions. Disease is as much a threat as is crime.
        However serious and defying it may be, it cannot justify sacrificing living beings for it. Neither people whatever their status may be, nor animals.
        We have to cope with it in an intelligent, civilised way. I believe we are able to it.

  4. Many prominent scientists, supported by a vast amount of research, doubt the value of animal testing and many of the alleged advances in medical science using animal testing were failures and ended up being withdrawn. Drug after drug is being exposed as harmful to patients even though they were not harmful to animals. Vioxx was tested extensively on monkeys and proven to be beneficial to monkey hearts, but this mistake will cost Merck & Co. $4.85 billion dollars to settle 26,600 Vioxx-related personal-injury lawsuits. Vioxx is just one example of many.

    In fact, in a USDA press release January 12, 2006, Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said:

    “Currently, nine out of ten experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies.”

    But there is a simpler argument that testing is either morally or scientifically dubious: The animals must be a great deal like us for the results to be scientifically unproblematic, but very different from us in order to be morally unproblematic. When we want scientifically useful results, the more like us they are, the better. When we want clear consciences over causing disease, suffering, and death to innocent creatures, the more like us the animals are, the worse. We cannot have it both ways?

    Furthermore, even if it turned out that animal research benefited humans or other animals, that doesn’t mean that we have a right to harm or kill some beings in order to save others.

    When animal advocates maintain that animals matter in their own right, that amounts to acknowledging the possibility that something could be beneficial to us, but still morally dubious. There may be advantages we’re not entitled to or that it would be wrong for us to seek out and pursue.

    • Another person who understands the quintessence of the matter & formulates it very well. Thank you Patrick!

      The thing is comparable to torture. In civilised nations torture is legally forbidden – how severe the crime may be. (Beccaria 18th c.)
      The whole procedure criminal suspects are subjected to is legally well formalized. This is (among other things) what makes nations and mankind civilized.

      But as soon as it comes to nonhuman beings some people feel free to harm them, torture them – even to death.
      There is no crime these living beings can be accused of!
      This is clearly barbaric behaviour.

      As long as these kind of people are among us, one must first cross his fingers and hope that the little civilisation that exits right now, will hold on.

      But if it holds it might expand. And overcome the brutal people. I believe that time will come that parliaments of all nations will expand the law to forbid any forced experiment on any living being.

    • 1) Both polls by the Pew Research Center and Nature yield a 92% support among scientists for animal research. If by “many prominent scientists” you refer to some on the remaining 8% then fine…

      2) Your “simpler argument” is partly true and the reason why so much research on animals do not include primates or apes these days.

      3) Yes, animals matter in their own right to scientists as well and many members of the public too, but they also see a moral dilemma in advancing human health and finding new cures and diseases… One that “animal advocates” usually refuse to acknowledge (it is much easier to advocate for the animals if one could argue that the vaccines that are now protecting you were not developed with their use.)

      • I don’t think animal advocates refuse to acknowledge it. But I don’t think we are morally required to reject cures (or vaccines if you use them) that were developed by animal research. Many of the nations roads were built by slaves, but no one suggests we shouldn’t use them. No one suggests Obama shouldn’t occupy the White House because it was built by slaves. There are many other examples.

        But there is a bigger moral dilemma that research advocates (and the public in general) refuse to acknowledge. The diseases that cause most of the illnesses and death in the United States are chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And these diseases are most often due to lifestyle choices, which means they are largely preventable.

        Roughly two-thirds of all cancer deaths are due to lifestyle choices, and thus are preventable. The American Heart Association concurs, saying that heart disease is “mostly preventable.” The American Diabetic Association publishes similar estimates and analysis. And that doesn’t even include less deadly afflictions like arthritis, ulcers, cataracts, or common ailments like flus, colds, and allergies, etc. many of which are also caused or exacerbated by diet and lifestyle.

        People know all this, but still refuse to make beneficial lifestyle changes. Doctors suggest these changes in a casual way, but they know most people will not make the recommended changes. People would rather abuse themselves now, and call on doctors later, to prescribe the newest little purple pill or perform the latest heart-bypass procedure to treat problems that could have been prevented in the first place.

        The serious ethical question is : why should millions of innocent animals be tortured and sacrificed to find treatments for largely self-inflicted diseases in people who refuse to take responsibility for their own choices?

        Granted, some people make responsible lifestyle choices and still get disease. But if we accept scientists’ estimates that two-thirds of the major diseases are preventable, we could at least significantly reduce animal testing. It should not just be accepted without question that when people are irresponsible by self-inflicting chronic disease, animals can be tormented and sacrificed to save them.

      • Patrick,

        First, I do believe you ought to reject medicines developed by means of animal research because you would be otherwise supporting an ongoing practice you find immoral. We discussed this before — http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/11/17/opponents-of-animal-research-should-refuse-medical-treatment/ Your analogies with slavery are flawed.

        Second, a substantial amount of research funds go into prevention and education, which acknowledges that we should also try to educate our population on the lifestyles we make. Often times, such choices are tied to socio-economic status… It is a rather complex situation. You would rather refuse to provide medical treatment to those that opt for poor choices? Would that make the work ethical?

        Third, animals are not “tortured”.

        Fourth, have you considered the consequences in human suffering if vaccines had not been developed by means of animal research? Do you approve of vaccine development?

      • I ‘d like to comment on the above post primarily directed to Patrick by mr. Darioringach.

        1. Darioringach: ”I do believe you ought to reject medicines developed by means of animal research because you would be otherwise supporting an ongoing practice you find immoral. We discussed this before — http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/11/17/opponents-of-animal-research-should-refuse-medical-treatment/ Your analogies with slavery are flawed.”

        Comment:
        I read this link (but not the following 88 reactions!).
        The idea is pure nonsense. You would be right IF we had a choice. (You give that example yourself.)
        I wrote earlier that (most) animal activists are veggies. That is because we indeed have the choice of rejecting eating meat and fish. So we do.

        You can’t blame me on the fact that I have no (serious) choice in choosing medical treatment.

        2. Darioringach: “animals are not “tortured”.

        Comment:
        I am not going into word play.
        What you for convenience’s sake skip is how you would call the mistreatment lab animals undergo.
        The point is however that we should not mistreat living beings AT ALL. We have a moral duty to be good to our fellow (non)human beings, to comfort them as much as we can.
        That is quite the opposite of what you stand for.

        And please mr. Darioringach, never forget: “… it’s better to stand up inconsistently to some atrocities than to acquiesce consistently in them all.”

        3. Darioringach: “have you considered the consequences in human suffering if vaccines had not been developed by means of animal research? Do you approve of vaccine development?”
        And elsewhere: “it is much easier to advocate for the animals if one could argue that the vaccines that are now protecting you were not developed with their use.”

        Comment
        The same absence of logic over and over again.
        Neither you nor I can predict what would have been without animal testing. Our medical situation could have been worse – it could have been better!
        You prefer to look away from advances constantly being made in replacing animal testing.

        And please note: even all this is not the end!
        You and your companions do not hesitate :
        > to frighten ordinary people in presenting animal testing as a b s o l u t e l y essential.

        You do not hesitate :
        >to threaten people, even authorities, with claims that without animal testing there is no hope for the future, – we would fall back in the Dark Ages.

        Where mr Darioringach is your human dignity?

        I am glad to see that even in this dark corner of internet there are manifestations of people of good will.

      • Of course you have an option to medicines — not taking them. For example, if you suffer from a heart condition that requires a new heart you would not consider killing your neighbor so you could live longer. You would die before killing your neighbor. Why would you not do the same for the animals you think are killed unethically?

        “Neither you nor I can predict what would have been without animal testing. Our medical situation could have been worse – it could have been better!”

        Yes, we know where we would have been without animal testing… All you have to do is look is a mere 300 years back.

        As Dr. Salk said — “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”

        It is people like him that save millions of human and animal lives. I am glad there are extremely talented scientists around the world that have the courage to engage in the responsible use of animals in medicine that will benefit you, me, our children, grandchildren and every future generation. You should be thankful for their work.

        There are many great universities in the Netherlands… why don’t you stop by one of them and learn a bit about medical history and life sciences? You are certainly not going to get that from reading Dr. Greek’s pamphlets.

      • Dear mr. Darioringfach,

        Concerning ‘choice’ (option):
        You are right that I can refuse medical care, as a protest to animal testing.
        However, to my opinion that is not the point.
        The point is that I have no choice in the kind of t r e a t m e n t. There are no medicaments that have not been tested on animals.
        A clear example of choice exists concerning eating. The choice is between meat/fish and veganism. For many reasons: an easy choice!

        Concerning Dark Ages (“300 years back”):
        It looks as if you are hypnotised by your own created fear. You overlook the development of science and technology as a whole, right from the start. Animal testing had nothing to do with it. The only abuse was in health care! This makes me believe that we might have been better off with a development of medecine in another direction.
        It is certainly valid for our days where decent science is moving fast ahead.

        Concerning universities:
        In this country cowboys have no entry to university grades.

      • You remain confused, but given that I am a teacher I am compelled to try one more time…

        You must refuse medical research for the same reason you must refuse to kill your neighbor to get a heart transplant. You consider all living beings as having the same right to life and liberty. You think that your human neighbor has a right to life despite any potential utility her or she may have to you. The same applies to all those animals that were used to produce medicines that may benefit you.

        Being a cowboy is no excuse for ignorance. Anyone with access to the internet these days can have access to knowledge and an education. I am sure there are plenty of public libraries around you. It is your choice… and you obviously you made a bad one.

      • Dear mr. Darioringach,

        You prefer to switch from medecines to chirurgy. Desperately looking for arguments for the sake of animal testing, after I explained that concerning medecines there is no choice in t r e a t m e n t for people like me – destesting vivisection.

        I do not know the history of heart transplantation in detail. I know that South African surgeon dr. Barnard was first to undertake the operation. The patients for whom there was no more cure left, offered themselves voluntarily, and afterwards did not live long. What other choice did they have? Most likely you and I would take the same risk if any other alternative is non-existent.
        Analogous practice took place when my compatriot dr Willem Kolff invented the machine for hemodialysing. (Kampen (Neth.) 1943)
        Kolff also worked on the heart-lung machine and the artificial heart.

        ***
        I should like to add that if you think that dr Greek and dr Hansen are the only ones who reject animal testing, you are wrong. Recently you yourself named a ‘percentage’- i.e. a well known rethorical trick (percentages in stead of numbers) – of 7%. That percentage of a great many doctors amounts to a lot! Thereby the opposition to animal testing comes from all sides, and is worldwide.

        ***
        You might understand that it comes as a shock to me that you are working as a teacher. I pity the students who are victimed to your abject indoctrination. From the level of argueing I had reckoned (and preferred) to correspond with an all American horseriding prairiecowboy instead.

      • …”after I explained that concerning medecines there is no choice in t r e a t m e n t for people like me – destesting vivisection.”

        Yes, once last time, you do have a choice — it involves rejecting the medicines that were developed by what you believe are immoral means. But, apparently, your life is too precious to succumb to your own ideology.

        If you are truly living in the dutch countryside just take a look around you — see all those cows? Maybe you should spend more time trying to save them rather than opposing life-saving medical research.

      • @darioringach: “life-saving” = murdering 100.000.000 non human beings.
        (yearly; low estimation)

      • Life saving — just vaccines alone have saved already over a billion human lives. Learn the facts.

    • This post from 2012, may help with understanding the safety standards and why so many drug candidates are not approved for use for our loved ones; it even mentions Vioxx briefly. http://speakingofresearch.com/2012/03/05/understanding-adverse-drug-reactions-adrs/

      As outlined above in my position as an animal welfarist, I disagree that there is anything morally or scientifially dubious surrounding biomedical and veterinary research.

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