Encyclopaedia Britannica states:
“… it is likely that, for every known human disease, an identical or similar disease exists in at least one other species.”
Veterinary medicine and human medicine have followed similar developmental paths. This is true for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that veterinary patients and human patients may suffer from the same disease problems and benefit from the same diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Today’s medical scientists see no division between the disciplines of medicine and veterinary medicine, interpreting medical science as a continuum of form and function which while varying across species, is more alike than not. This philosophy is embodied in the current concept of the “One Health Initiative”, now a major focus of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in concert with the American Medical Association (AMA), the Centers for Disease Control and the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.
A major goal of the One Health Initiative is the integration of education between human medical schools, veterinary medical schools and schools of public health. Others are improved inter-disciplinary communication, the promotion of research on cross-species disease transmission and the integration of human, veterinary and wildlife disease surveillance and control. The initiative will encourage comparative research on diseases affecting both humans and animals, including diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders and obesity.
Scientists from all disciplines, who embrace the One Health Initiative, look at disease and health in a new way, a way in which all research holds the potential to benefit many species. Animal models of disease remain key to ongoing medical research and the promise of better health for all species.
While medical research using animal disease models may originally have been intended to benefit mainly people, discoveries and developments from that research today are evaluated with the intent to benefit both. That is the wisdom embodied in the One Health Initiative. Further, the benefits now flow both ways, with diagnostics and therapeutics developed through human trials today available for the benefit of veterinary patients as well. This should be no surprise, as many people place a high value on the quality of their animal’s lives and preserving that quality of life through advanced medical treatment is a normal demand of veterinary clientele.
A few examples of animal research originated advancements, which have benefited multiple species, and which were developed using animal research models include:
1. Asthma (cats)
2. Blood transfusion (many species)
3. Cancers (especially Melanoma in dogs)
4. Insulin (dogs, cats)
5. Kidney transplantation (cats)
6. Infectious disease vaccines (all species)
The Royal Veterinary College has a brief leaflet highlighting a few pieces of current research (that is funding) in animals being carried out for the benefit of animals.