Blogging the Benefits of Animal Research

I wanted to alert our viewers to a fantastic new blog I discovered recently.

The Ark Hive, written by Dr. Paul Foster, a Lecturer in Molecular Endocrinology at the University of Birmingham in the UK. According to his blog, Dr. Foster is:

“an experienced cancer researcher and pharmacologist with a strong interest in understanding how animals help advance medical research”

It is important that researchers, just like Dr. Foster, use their knowledge to help improve public understanding about the role of animals in research. Foster carefully balances scientific rigour with layman’s language to create a blog that is both enlightening and readable. Taken from his website is a short explanation of why he believes animal research is crucial.

Tests in intact animals are necessary to understand how a drug will work in the context of the myriad metabolic and homeostatic mechanisms that are active in vivo. Screening tests are commonly conducted with in vitro systems and isolated tissues or organs to identify and, in some cases, to act as a bioassay to help purify pharmacologically active agents. However, the variable processes of absorption, distribution within the organism, metabolism to either inactive or more active products, and excretion will modulate the expression of pharmacologic activity in vivo. The only way this modulation can be estimated is by studying the new drug in intact animals.

Aside from studies of pharmacologic activity, side effects of new drugs must be identified and an initial assessment made of their risk-to-benefit ratio. Again, mechanisms of action and effects on specific organs can be studied by using in vitro techniques. However, to identify unexpected adverse effects and to estimate the dosages that may be pharmacologically active without producing unwanted effects, in vivo studies must be conducted.

Speaking up about your own research doesn’t have to involve creating your own blog from scratch – feel free to jump on our bandwagon and offer to write a guest post on the merits of animal research for this blog.