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the-3-monkeysI recently had a veterinarian in India contact me.  He brought up the subject of using animals for the benefit of scienceHe wanted to get feedback from people around the world. This is a very controversial topic.  On one side people are all for it.  They have a family member that is very sick, or they are sick themselves.  They would like to find a cure before they die.  On the other hand there are people who say, why should lots of animals die trying to find a cure for humans?  Aren’t animals living, caring, feeling creatures too?  There is still another side, why not do the trials on humans?  There are people who would not have a problem doing this as long as they were financially cared for and all related expenses were taken care of for them.  The challenge, it’s illegal in the US.  I’m not sure about other parts of the world.

So what is the answer? Here are a number of responses I have received from around the world.  You can read more of these comments, and join a group that I started by clicking here. The group is for people who want to share their thoughts, ideas and stories about animal organizations, charities or issues. We also want to get ideas and feedback on things people can do to help.  We are already inundated with the negative things going on in the world.  Let’s come up with some solutions that people can implement in their own lives.


This new group is also for people in the film, TV, media industry.  I want to find ways to spread the word on some of the wonderful solutions people come up with.  The show, Animal Connection, will be a series bringing a lot of these things to the forefront to be shared around the world.


Here are some recent comments:

1. Kim: I am not a Dr. therefore my viewpoint is tilted and objectivity is lost. More and more research is showing us that animals are sentient beings and do feel pain and suffering.

That being said, if one of my children were suffering and there was a cure that required animal testing to determine it’s effect, then obviously my point of view would be altered…therein lies the dilemma.

2.  Dr. Mishar: Definitely there are developments on certain area where animal models can be replaced by tissue culture. I think, it’s used wherever it can be. However, we are far from developing a model to replicate human biosystem which is a human being only.

Now the issue is with Animal drug development. We did a historical analysis to get a result that nearly 60% of animal drugs are translated from human pharmaceuticals. Faster the human drug development, faster the translation into veterinary products for animal’s ailments. Drugs like Vancomycin are also available for animals after successful launch for human beings. Animal pharma market is not as attractive as human pharma to invite heavy investment for new drug development. Mostly animal pharma gets benefited from human focused pharma innovations. Recently one drug named Carprofen with minimum side effect in human beings got translated for animal’s use also. This drug can actually reduce the side effect of earlier drugs and can reduce animal pain with minimal side effect.I being a vet and running a clinical research organization for animal’s well being, vouch for faster human drug development which can in turn help animal world.

Now the debate remains and I agree with you Kim and Vanessa, wherever substitute available, it has to be explored first before even thinking about animal trial. Just in case of unavailability of alternatives, don’t we think that a faster development of human drugs actually helps animals also?   Please feel free to give your views and all type of perspectives.

3.  Vanessa: You give a very interesting perspective on the matter. I don’t think that the fact that medication for animals can be developed sooner by animal testing should be a justifiable reason to do so.

I will admit that I do not know a lot about this and there are probably a lot of facts unknown to me however here are my thoughts. I am a mother of 7 children and blessed that all are in perfect health. However, if one of my children had a life threatening illness, I would want anything that could be done to save them to be looked at.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am very careful over the name brands I purchase –I make sure they are environmentally friendly and non-animal tested. I have also been a vegetarian for the past 13 years because I would never want another animal to die for me when I can easily substitute the meat. I also have 10 animals at home that I completely love and cherish.

So hypothetically speaking, if there was a lift threatening illness where the only way scientist knew how to create a cure is through animal testing, I can understand the reasoning. However, if you are talking about creating a medication for something more superficial such as medicine to make you look younger or to help someone’s seasonal allergies, then I can not see that as reason enough for it.

4. Rose: I also do not have a medical background, but my line of work does put me in touch with animals in the environment of energy healing and animal communication.

I respect the perspectives of everyone here, but have a slightly different one. Animals are sentient beings who feel many of the same emotions we do and feel physical pain. They understand and accept being part of the food chain as natural, however experimentation on animals is not natural, it is something that mankind has developed for personal benefit. I feel that animals have the right to decide if they wish to volunteer for experimentation just as humans do. This is a question of ethics, science has determined that animals think and feel, why should we subject them to terrible quality of life for our benefit? It my belief that we should put more money into finding ways to prevent many of the illnesses that are caused by how we treat our bodies, the earth, and our food sources rather than into drug research.

I do not have children, but I do have sisters, and a father who died of cancer. I still feel that experimentation on animals is wrong for any reason. Just because you can do something does not mean you should.

5.  Carolyn: I understand and respect everyone’s reasoning, this is probably going to be a really interesting conversation!

Personally on both an intellectual and an emotional level I am strongly against the use of animals for testing, especially in the development of cosmetics. This is not only from an animal welfare point of view. I started in on this when I was very, very young. I was pretty rabidly anti-vivisection and testing purely for welfare reasons, and then went on to research more about the viability and “sense” of animal testing.

So far our conversation has focused on drug development/testing. It is my understanding that using animal tests to model drug effects can give dangerously misleading results. i.e. thalidomide.

There are many other ways in which animals are being used for medical research and development.

As far as I remember, nobody has yet talked about other uses of animals in medical/scientific research. As an example- the mouse who had an ear grown on his back.

Where are the boundaries for everyone else here?

If we remove the outright tortures of draize testing, toxicity testing, deliberately poisoning animals or creating tumours etc in animals, what views do all of you have on this issue?

Will an appropriately human based medium for testing and research etc ever be developed when world leaders are religiously and and/ or anthrocentrically obsessed to the point of banning stem cell research etc?

P.S  Dr Mishrah I somehow had the idea that university students in the UK do sometimes “volunteer” (and sometimes get paid) to participate in drug/chemical trials. Is this correct?

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15 Responses to “Animals and Science, Do They Mix?”

  • Karl Enevold says:

    I am a PhD scientist with over 25 years experience in medical device technology R&D, I can tell you with assurance that we would all be worse off without the use of animal models to develop device technologies or model a disease. As an inventor of a live cell artificial pancreas for Type 1 diabetes, a tissue regeneration device for chronic wounds or burns, and an infection control device to fight hospital acquired microbial infections, I would never have gotten these technologies off the ground without the use of mice, rabbits, and pigs. I did my thesis on the association of retroviruses with mouse leukemia at time much of what we know about this disease was discovered. As for tissue culture models, they always fall short of replicating a disease when in culture. This issue is these cells always de-differentiate to become something less like the cells they derived from, even when immortalized; look at the 40 year failure of stem cells to accomplish much of anything. It has to do with how they are propagated and an inherrent gene silencing mechanism (methylation?) that takes place within the first 24 hrs of isolation. There is no debate, look at polio!

  • Administrator says:

    There’s no alternative. From the times of Hippocrates and Aristotle, major human diseases have been detected to be coming from domesticated animals, who in turn get them from wild animals. Today we call them as zoonoses. At least for treatment of these we need to test on animals first. I don’t know about the rest.

  • Frank says:

    As a former Clinical Nutrition researcher, I always have thought they mixed well. A lot of good ideas were first used in animals. It is my understanding that Glucosamine has been used in horses for decades. One researcher referred to it as the “motor oil of horses”.

  • Robert says:

    Well, I think they do. I even have an Animal Science degree to prove it. 🙂
    My horse also totally understands quantum mechanics. Me? not so much.

    All joking aside. Of course they do. Nearly all scientific discoveries are based on the nexus between animals and science. From diabetes, cancer research to the material that make up simple microbial agar plates. All can find their origin with animals in research.
    The main goal of all animal research is to reduce the use of it as much as possible. No one wants to do this but it’s a necessity of discovery for the greater good.
    Animals in research have more state and federal regulations protecting them from abuse than the average house pet. Their welfare is taken very seriously by those they see to their health.

  • Jeanine says:

    Hi All,

    What a great conversation. I am of the same mind-set as many in this discussion. I am against animal testing. Animals feel pain!!! All living creatures should be respected.

    Best to All,


  • Lisa says:

    This is such a diverse mentality on this subject it is absolutely hard to pin it down.
    For my opinion, I am a holistic worker. I provide holistic services to a variety of animals and do not endorse animal testing whatsoever.

    My mindset is returning to the “natural” and holistic way of healing. Some cultures focus on treating the healthy body, not the dis-eased one.

    There are a number of herbalists and naturopaths as well as some osteopaths that can show you how to to live a life of health.

    With that said, what would happen to all the science jargon should that currently happen?
    I am not naive enough to think that all would disappear, but there is a lot to be said for people taking care of themselves from a cellular level.

    Doesn’t science also agree that the human body is also made of energy? Those on the holistic side believe the same and believe that working with an acupuncturist or acupressure therapist or other form of energy worker will assist the body in healing itself.

    There is, after all, definately a mind/body/spiritual connect. But science negates that school of thought. They believe that treating with the drugs they have spent billions developing, with the assistance of the animals they cripple or kill (who don’t have a say), is the end all be all.

    Did you ever watch an animal when they are ill or have an upset stomach? They go straight to the natural resources they have available. Hmmmm a little knowledge there?

    Why do we, as humans, have to claim that we are the better, more advanced species?

  • Dr. Mishra says:

    Thanks Nick for your views. I can understand why your views change with time. Its a tough area and there is always a dilemma of conscience (Quoting Kim). At least stop animal trial for cosmetic reasons. I have discussed this some of earlier post. As far as life saving drugs and other important drugs development is concerned, we can’t stop their development if we don’t have an alternative to animal model.

    Even if 6 time animal model successful trial of HIV vaccine failed in humans, can we afford to do the 7 trial directly on humans? Can any human being allow himself to be a animal model with death consequences? Will any regulator allow this? Now should we stop research? Should we ask this question to an AIDS patient who is dying everyday? Its difficult to interpret data from a cell culture trial and convince ourselves about its efficacy. When real animal model trials failed to bring desired effect in humans, how can we completely rely on alternatives like cell culture trials? Yea, its a tough call for all of us and for the Scientists also. Many of scientists can’t see eye to eye to an animal under trial (Exceptions are there). But for whom these scientists / cruel scientists are working? I don’t think money is the driver for these people who slog day and night in the fight against disease. There are many other vocation that can earn money. As a vet when I prescribed Vancomycin to some of pets under my treatment, I felt delighted and thankful to some researchers who slogged day and night to develop these wonder drugs for human beings and in turn animals. When the pet gets healthy I do see a smile on owner’s face, whom should she/he be thankful. I think, animals who helped to develop the drugs and definitely the scientist who burnt midnight oil to make new drugs a reality.

    Animals are subjects of respect under all conditions and we do appreciate their contribution towards development of life saving and other important molecules. At best what we can do is to reduce their discomfort as much as we can and understand the factors for their well being.

    My views could be biased as I belong to those group of people who do trials (Though we do for animal pharmaceutical and vaccines). However, I fully understand and respect other’s concern about the animal trials.

    I think, this is my view and I would also try extensively hard to explore all means to develop alternatives to animal trials in future. Under NO circumstances we should do animal trial if an alternative is available.

    Thanks to all for this discussion thread and associated learnings.

  • Nick says:

    This is a very tough issue. I have changed my views over the years about this issue and am very negative towards their utilization, in almost any circumstance. However, if someone’s child could have been saved because a drug or treatment were introduced more rapidly because the researchers were able to use animals as part of their testing protocol, it would be hard to argue with a parent against their use. But really how often does this arise? As it stands now, I am vehemently opposed to using animals in this manner.

  • Vanessa says:

    We are now hitting many topics with controversial beliefs: cloning, pharmaceutical vs. homeopathy vs. healthy lifestyles, volunteer human testing. We can almost create separate discussions for each of them. What a great discussion you started Dr. Santosh!

    I think what needs to be stressed in this discussion is balance. I completely agree that with a healthy lifestyle and proper eating, we are less likely to fall ill and our children will as well. I know myself that as a vegetarian, I am extremely careful but especially when I was pregnant with what I ate and kept a very active lifestyle. However, I know others who have also led very healthy lifestyles and purely through genetics, they have fallen ill. So I think that a healthy lifestyle can definitely make a difference in one’s quality of living but it can not prevent all illnesses.

    I also go to a naturopathic doctor as well as a homeopath when needed. I actually haven’t needed to see my family doctor for quite a few years for any illness and same for my children. However, if I got in a car accident, I would want the hospital to treat me, not my homeopath. Each has their specialty and I don’t believe any practice has all the answers. I incorporate all into my life and found it the most beneficial way to go. Also, any good homeopath will still want you to verify and check with your doctor and they don’t see themselves as a replacement but as a resource.

    As for cloning, I am against it but realize that I don’t know enough on the subject to say that this is an educated belief. I don’t believe in manipulating nature and I find that whole subject a little scary.

    In regards to animal testing, after seeing where this discussion has gone I realize I don’t know enough about it. What type of testing is being referred to exactly, what animals and what are the effects on the animals?

    • Carolyn says:

      Possibly you could look for scientific papers- medical, drug trials etc to get an idea of what they do. They discuss the nature of an experiment and you will be able to read in “cold” terms what tests they have done, and how they talk about them. You can then go to groups like anti-vivisection, beauty without cruelty etc and learn what the terms mean and to get a “hot” terms perspective on the same kinds of tests or experiments.

      This is probably one of the ways you could get the info without having it pre-packaged by an anti-testing group. I am trying to think of ways for you that are kind of “neutral”.

      It is also interesting to go to the websites of companies who supply animals for testing. You can see which of our fellow creatures are “inventory”. Add to their list monkeys, apes, lizards, dolphins (just about anything you could poke a stick at).

  • Michele says:

    Using animals in pharma or food tests/medical instruction is often a knee-jerk reaction by corporations, labs, etc, since this model is heavily government-subsidized from what I’ve gleaned. If the government were to end its subsidies, and if more of these organizations actually took the time to educate themselves on non-animal alternatives (including Simulator Man, cadavers and in vitro, etc) and embrace them, much of the animal testing would disappear nearly overnight. The march is faster toward non-animal testing by consumer-goods companies because consumers prefer to buy products that have not been implicated in animal experiments, but many more companies/orgs still need to step up to the plate, faster. Millions of animals are experimented on each year in the US alone. Europe is ahead of the curve overall.

  • Eileen says:

    I am against animal testing for a couple of reasons. The primary being that animals lower on the phylogenetic scale are considerably different from humans, except animals classified as primates. The other reason has more to do with spirituality for lack of a better word. It seems that we humans like to brag about how intelligent we are, yet in all of our intelligence, we block out natural healing mechanisms because they are “not scientific”. But healing is not necessarily a process that lends itself to standard scientific methodology.

    One problem I see with prescription drugs, since controlled substances are a big part of this conversation, is that once you take them, it is necessary to take other ones to counteract the side effects of the primary prescription. To a certain extent, the same statement is true of “supplements” marketed as food products so the FDA does not require extensive testing. When it comes to supplements, for many of them, it appears that they do indeed have the same effects on humans as they do on non-humans animals. Even then, I still do not see why we need to use animals to test the efficacy of them.

    Why can’t we just accept what the Chinese wrote thousands of years ago about medicinal plants? Just because we can synthesize drugs and make symptoms go away, does not mean we are more advanced than they were with respect to healing.

    • Dr. Mishra says:

      Thanks Eileena. Yes, today we have many natural remedies for healing. No doubt. Even homeopathy works. However, when it comes to acute diseases which causes immediate fatality and other surgical conditions, ayurvedic, naturopathy and homeopathy depends on Allopathy.

      Its a great idea to combine all the means to reduce the use of Allopathy and save some animals from testing. Yea, animal lower in phylogenetic order might not give a correct indication of drugs toxicity or efficacy. However, regulators required a gradual testing from mice to rabbits to dogs and if required monkeys. If the drug fails at lower stage, then the higher phylogenetic animals are saved. Sounds logical. Still pain is a pain irrespective of animals.

      I think alternatives to animal models are also tried wherever possible. But its not easy to develop a complete biosystem to test a drug. Otherwise humans can play God. Now again, can we allow drug testing on human clones? Debate continues.

  • Mitch says:

    I don’t think it is ever appropriate to use animals for testing. It’s just cruel and unusual punishment. Would you donate one of your children to be used for testing to save another child? Why would we think that we had this right? Are “we” presuming that we are the more advanced species? And if that’s so… why don’t we figure out another way? I come from a more spiritual place and I see animals being quite a bit more evolved than humans. Maybe we should consider that it’s not all about the next best NARCOTIC… maybe if we were so advanced we would be using the power of our own minds to heal our bodies and stop taking so many drugs! I’m a clinical hypnotist and I work predominantly with terminally ill and I see people healing themSelves all the time. Leave the animals alone and focus on the tools that we already have… like our MINDS! or are “we” just to… LAZY?

    • Dr. Mishra says:

      Thanks Mitch for your views. Yes, many of the ailments and lifestyle disease can be prevented by healthy lifestyle, excercise and as you said, power of mind. There is a quite bit of healing power of meditation, yoga and other natural ways.

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