Benefits of Animal Research, Right Down to the Letter

It’s always exciting, in this day and age, to get a letter that isn’t spam. Even more exciting when the letter is from another continent. And even more when it’s a letter as supportive and insightful as this one (full text below).

Dear Tom Holder:

I am a freshman studying at Orange County High School of the Arts. In my literature class, I recently gave a political speech addressing the benefits of animal research. I understand that your organization strongly encourages animal research. Allow me to thank you for actively supporting the use of animals in biomedical research by inspiring students and scientists to speak out in favor of animal research.

With animal testing, the world’s life expectancy is remarkably high. From the eradication of polio and small pox to breast cancer treatments, animal research has proved to be fundamental to the well being of this species. Viruses, diseases, and illnesses should never get in the way of our country’s success. By means of animal research, we have several vaccines and prescriptions available to the country to prevent these. Conventional wisdom states that animal testing implies animal abuse. But in reality, most scientists build up strong attachments to the animals they use in their experiments. Public misconceptions about alternatives to animal testing remain high, In vitro testing, MRI scanning, computer modeling and micro dosing are al vital, but these aspects of medicine simply compliment animal testing. One cannot purely find a replacement to animal research. Animal research should therefore not only be allowed, it must be strongly encouraged.

Animal research is irreplaceable and crucial to medical progress. Thus, thank you for standing up for science by founding several organizations similar to Speaking of Research. Please continue inspiring others and encouraging students, like me, to speak out for the benefits of animal research.

Sincerely

Momachi Pabrai
(reprinted with permission of author)

I congratulate Momachi for standing up among her colleagues to tell them of the benefits of animal research. Her letter shows that she has clearly thought through this controversial issue. Momachi hits upon the key ideas of why animal research is done. Namely:

  1. It is crucial to medical development; and
  2. It is currently irreplaceable

She includes examples such as the polio vaccine and breast cancer treatments (e.g. Herceptin) to back up her arguments. This is an example of how anyone, no matter what their scientific background, can make the case for animal research.

On behalf of Speaking of Research I wish Momachi all the best in the rest of her freshman year.

Cheers

Tom Holder

8 responses to “Benefits of Animal Research, Right Down to the Letter

  1. A silly straw man argument – you are arguing against a quote by Prof. Evans that no one has made.

    I haven’t the time to check all the claims made by Bayly, but among his mistakes are:

    Libavius’s risky experiment was poorly publicised and played little part in the modern understanding of blood transfusion. See more on the role of animal research in blood transfusions here:
    https://speakingofresearch.com/extremism-undone/bad-science/#13

    Davy showed nitrous gas worked in animals long before he showed it in humans. You might care to read the history of the development of anaesthetics to put your facts straight:
    http://www.animalresearch.info/en/listing/11/anaesthetics/

    The fact that Bayly argues homeopathy is the “one complete system of medicine” is comical given the thorough scientific destruction it’s had in the last 10 years. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U

    One chemical in British pharmacopoeia – Penicillin – saved millions of lives. Animal experiments played an important part.
    https://speakingofresearch.com/facts/medical-benefits/#1

    • Why are you so keen on propping up a cruel practice when major authorities denounce it on both medical and moral grounds as not only useless but misleading – since ANIMALS AND MAN ARE NOT THE SAME? Morally, you promote tyranny by espousing the unjust principle that the end justifies the means, Do you believe that the end justifies the means? You don’t have to. The means are not necessary!! Animal tests are bunk. They cause (iatrogenic) disease for profit and then serve as an alibi for the harms done — namely that animal tests are not predicitve for man. Clever, sinister, deadly.

      • That the best you can do Humbug? No long and mostly irrelevant essay by some long dead anti-vivisectionist to quote?

        But then if the best you can come up with is stuff such as “Instruments like the stethoscope, thermometer, microscope, ophtalmoscope, X -rays, etc., made modern clinical medicine. Take them away and you have practically nothing left.’ Yet none of these was discovered, or its use developed through experiments upon animals.” then you’d best keep it too yourself.

        I see that ultrasound was left off that list, and it wasn’t developed through animal research…but it’s use to treat prostate cancer was!

        https://speakingofresearch.com/2009/07/06/from-science-fiction-to-science-fact/

        As for Desjardins, he may have been a good surgeon, but if we’re going to trade dead surgeons I for one am glad that surgical innovators such as Norman Schumway http://med.stanford.edu/featured_topics/obituary/shumway/ did not listen to Desjardins advice.

  2. Further to the last post, it reminded me of Dr. Beddow Bayly, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.. In the Abolitionist of September 1940 he wrote a brief article, “Fallacies About Vivisection”:

    “Professor C. Lovatt Evans was reported to have told the British Association at Glasgow in 1928 that “no doctor can use a stethoscope, feel a pulse, take a blood-pressure, administer a hypodermic, give an anaesthetic or a transfusion, perform any modem operations or indeed take any steps in diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment without utilising at every turn knowledge derived from results of animal experimentation and obtainable in no other way.

    “This is a statement fairly typical of the almost incredible nonsense which pro-vivisectionists have the temerity to ‘broadcast’ in their public utterances and writings. It seems almost an insult to the reader’s intelligence to assume that it requires an answer. However, let us take the claims in order.

    “The stethoscope was invented by Flaennec when, in 1819, he screwed up a roll of paper in order to listen to the chest of a stout patient.

    “Hua Tu, one of the ablest physicians of all time, lived in China 2,000 years ago and developed a high degree of accuracy in diagnosis by feeling the radial pulse; he was also a pioneer in abdominal operations (under anaesthetic drugs), and removed diseased lengths of bowel, suturing sound portions with­out infection. He was also versed in the action of the glands upon the body and practised organotherapy.

    “In this latter connection it is interesting to recall that Dr. Langdon Brown told the British Medical Association in 1925 that ‘the pioneer observations were made at the bedside. Gull and Ord discovered the functions of the thy­roid, when the laboratories had made no more helpful suggestion than that it was merely helpful to improve the contour of the neck. Addison was the first to point out the function of the adrenals, while the role of the pituitary was recognised clinically from the symptoms of acromegaly.’

    “Ability to estimate blood-pressure was gained by a study of the laws of hydro-dynamics. In 1733, experiments upon animals, in which tubes were in­serted directly into the animal’s arteries, had been found to be totally inapplic­able to man; they contributed nothing to our knowledge of human blood-press­ure nor to the invention of the apparatus now used to record it; this was not achieved until many years had elapsed since the futile and cruel animal experiments were performed.

    “The hypodermic syringe was invented by Charles G. Pravaz, a surgeon of Lyons, in 1852; in the following year Alexander Wood, of Edinburgh, used this method for injecting morphia for the relief of neuralgia and thus paved the way for local anaesthesia. Drugs subsequently invented for this purpose could obviously only be tested for efficacy upon human volunteers.
    “Of the respiratory anaesthetics, chloroform was first used by James Sim­pson in 1847; ether by William Morton in 1846, after experiments upon them­selves and friends. Nitrous oxide gas had been suggested by Sir Humphrey Davy as an anaesthetic in 1800, but it was not until 1844 that it was first used during the extraction, by a colleague, of a tooth of a dentist named Horace Wells.

    “According to the Medical World. May 12, 1939: ‘The father of spinal anaesthesia is August Bier, a German doctor who in 1898 injected a 1 per cent solution of cocaine into his own spinal canal in order to observe its effects.’

    “The new basal anaesthetics, which are applied by rectal injection, were the direct outcome of clinical observation of the action of Avertin, first used to allay the spasms of whooping- cough. Other drugs of the same chemical series followed.

    “As the Report of the Royal Commission on Vivisection (1912) declared: ‘The discovery of anaesthetics owes nothing to experiments on animals.’

    “The first human blood-transfusion was made by Andre Libavius in 1594 when, for a large reward, the blood of a young man was passed into the veins of an older man. Modern technique depends upon a careful matching of blood­ types, and no animal experiments have, or could have, helped in this essential particular.

    “Animal experiments for surgical skill have already been shown to be illegal in this country; abroad, we may sum the matter up in the words of Dr. A. Desjardins, President of the Society of Surgeons in Paris: ‘I have never known a single good operator who has learned anything whatever from experiments on animals.’

    “There is hardly a useful drug in the British Pharmacopoeia which owes anything to animal experiments. Even the so-called biological standardization is so unreliable that efforts are continually being made to replace it by chemical tests in the few cases in which it is employed. There is plenty of evidence to show that animal experiments on creatures differing from man in nearly every particular have been both misleading and dangerous.
    Moreover, there is one complete system of medicine, the Homoeopathic, practised by an increasing number of physicians for over a hundred years, which is based upon principles that entirely rule out the validity of animal experiments, all tests of the action of drugs being made upon human volunteers.

    “Did space permit, every branch of knowledge utilised by medical practitioners might similarly be shown to be independent of animal experiments, but this brief article may fitly be concluded by a quotation from an article in the Medical World. April 12, 1940, in which G.E. Donovan, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., D.P.H., declares: ‘Instruments like the stethoscope, thermometer, microscope, ophtalmoscope, X -rays, etc., made modern clinical medicine. Take them away and you have practically nothing left.’ Yet none of these was discovered, or its use developed through experiments upon animals.”

  3. What an illiterate letter, and frustratingly typical of the almost incredible nonsense uttered by these misguided folks. More thoughtful people might prefer to learn from the learned opponents of animal research such as Dr. G. F. Walker, doctor at the Royal Hospital and at the Children’s Hospital, Sunderland, from his article Reflection on the Training of Doctors in Medical World, Oct. 6, 1933:
    “…I now come to the most serious charges that I have to level against medical training. During his whole period of study it is impressed on the medical student, mostly by teachers with financial interests, that knowledge of the human body can only be achieved by observing and carrying out animal experiments. Now I know quite well that animal
    experiments are condemned on all sides on emotional, moral and ethical grounds. For the moment I will not concern myself with these matters of dispute, however reasonable they may be. My own conviction is that the study of human physiology by way of experiment on animals is the most grotesque and fantastic error ever committed in the whole range of human intellectual activity. Like all such errors, this one is defended by its supporters either with presumptuous and confused fanaticism or with self-opinionated excitedness. But this way of thinking is made out to the student to be a public-spirited and unbiased keenness for truth. The fact is that most students, although they are not aware of it, are damaged for
    life in their mental abilities as soon as they have once been persuaded to pay physiology more than the superficial interest that is taught to them in conventional medical studies; one of the most saddening phenomena is the otherwise good-natured and reasonable student who passionately defends animal experiments because his teachers, who have a financial
    interest in such experiments, have transferred their depravity to him on the strength of their position and personality.”

    • “The fact is that most students, although they are not aware of it, are damaged for life in their mental abilities as soon as they have once been persuaded to pay physiology more than the superficial interest that is taught to them in conventional medical studies”
      What utter rubbish – are you telling me all students of physiology are mentally deficient? The same physiology students who have helped improve the understanding of the human body over the last 80 years (since Walker’s ridiculous comment) and further improved life expectancy?

    • Wow, the quote from Dr Walker that:

      “During his whole period of study it is impressed on the medical student, mostly by teachers with financial interests, that knowledge of the human body can only be achieved by observing and carrying out animal experiments.”

      tells me immediately that Dr Walker is either very stupid (unlikely given that he presumably passed his medical exams) or was lying. No doctor I know, and for that matter no animal researcher I’ve ever met, would claim that knowledge of the human body can only be achieved by observing and carrying out animal experiments. It’s the combination of many methods of research, including animal and clinical studies, that leads to improved knowledge about human physiology.

      Did medical students in Dr. Walker’s day not dissect human cadavers? Did they not review clinical cases? Did they not accompany doctors on ward rounds?