Debate Rounds (3)
To define the terms of the argument, I am defining research as both laboratory and non-laboratory experimentation which is designed to gain a general knowledge (ie. medicine, behavioral qualities, etc…). Research performed includes both living and deceased animal testing and experimentation. I am defining the term justified as being both warranted and well grounded. While this argument may be expanded globally, when focusing on welfare standards I will primarily focus on US regulations and standards.
In recent years, genetics has been highly researched in animals. Genome mapping and subsequent testing has answered questions about gene expression, regulation, and genetic mutation. Protein function has become clearer after this research as well as drug interaction with certain bacteria and viruses which may infect a host animal. Genetics research is leading toward advancement in medicine which may be able to affect gene expression of certain disorders or genetic predisposition to certain diseases. Cancer research is one of the largest areas of genetic research; however many new drugs have been and are being developed from this research.
Animal testing has also been critical in the development of numerous vaccines. For example the rabies, MMR, and polio all were developed with the use of animal testing. These vaccines are able to save numerous lives and are mass distributed. Without prior animal testing it is exceedingly unlikely that scientists will be able to determine certainty of long term effects of the vaccines and their safety for live patients. Simply testing the vaccine strains on cultures would not provide evidence of long term effects and the use of an untested vaccine on humans would be exceedingly harmful.
Animal research is able to provide answers in the medical field that cannot be obtained through test tube experiments, use of cultures, or computer models. Testing on humans is restricted by the IRB and animals are the next closest models. Differences between human and animal models can be accounted for and still provide relevant results that can be applied to human medicine. Numerous medical advances in surgery and treatment have come about as of a result of animal testing. Organ transplants, by-pass surgery, chemotherapy, join replacements, etc… were all first tested on animals before they were performed on humans. Treatments for AIDS, tetanus, diabetes, and many other diseases and disorders were also developed based on animal research.
On the side of animal welfare, it must be noted that research performed on animals is monitored by organizations including the FDA, USDA, and IACUC. While not all animals are covered under the US Animal Welfare Act, the act does seek to provide what has been noted as adequate welfare standards for many key species. Animal testing has led to many improvements in the treatment of animals. Veterinary drugs and surgical procedures are the result of such testing and nutritionally balanced diets for pets and production animals have been developed after this research.
With this evidence, I find research performed on animals to be necessary and is therefore justified.
To define the terms of my proposal, animal testing is the experimental use of animals as hosts for drugs or other comparative therapy with that in humans. Alternative methods can be termed as methods for the study of human medicine that do not involve any form of animal testing, such as in vitro studies and epidemiological studies.
My opponent discusses how genetic research has been conducted in animals and then discusses how benefits in medicine have been derived from the research. How does genetic research in animals correlate in any manner to that of humans, considering the large variance in human and animal DNA? Genetic research on animals may be useful on the animals themselves, but even from animal to animal the genetics vary far too much to draw any sizable conclusion that medical treatment comparisons can be drawn.
Another point my opponent discusses is one concerning cancer research. However, she does not provide any connection between the development of drugs created for cancer and animal testing. Are we to assume that cancer drugs and all research conducted in the field have been the benefactor of animal testing? This inherency is ill conceived. Evidence exists to the contrary. Cancer cannot be replicated in animals. Therefore, how can any formidable cancer drug be formed from animal research? In fact, after the United States National Cancer Institute's 25-year screening program, no anti tumour drug was found from the animal testing involved.
In regards to genetics research, through gene annotations and mapping there has proven to be evidence of high homology between proteins of different species. While the overall DNA may have a large variance, the homology of certain segments of DNA makes research between species relevant. Many disorders and diseases are the result of protein function and therefore genetic research from one species can be used to deduce information about the genetic function of another species. Gene expression, regulation, and genetic mutation can similarly be analyzed between species given the location of the gene within the genome and the DNA which surrounds it. To establish these relationships a great deal of research must be done, but with the prominence of modern genetics, GENBANK and other genetic databases have increased their number of entries drastically. Genetics research has also provided methods for genetic modification. Modification allows for the insertion or removal of specific genes of an animal allowing for the gene's function to be more thoroughly studied. Diseases and disorders such as Huntington's disease, diabetes, and even cancer have been studied in such a manner.
As for cancer research, it must be recognized that developmental methods and the most current methods of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy were first tested on animals before they were used as treatment methods on human patients. Similarly continuing research with monoclonal antibodies, interferons, interleukins, etc... are continuing to be researched through the use of animals. Genetic testing and carcinogenicity testing in various species helps determine the causes and effects of cancer. Furthermore, genetic modification allows scientists to examine growth rates, physiological factors, and inhibitory nature of cancer. This research in conjunction with in vitro studies is now causing researchers to more closely examine interleukins and adenoviruses. While not all forms of cancer can be replicated in animals, some cancers are naturally appearing in animals and other forms of cancer can be inserted into the genetic structure of animals. Breast cancer research in particular is very poignant on animal research because the similarity between breast cancer in some animal species and human.
Here are just 2 examples of scientific articles which relate the relevance of animal testing in cancer research:
Frese, KK; Tuveson, DA (2007). "Maximizing mouse cancer models.". Nature reviews. Cancer 7 (9): 645–58.
Vail, DM; MacEwen, EG (2000). "Spontaneously occurring tumors of companion animals as models for human cancer.". Cancer investigation 18 (8): 781–92
Continuing with genetics research, despite the fact that there exists a homology between proteins of different species, how does this homology lead to the creation of drugs or treatments for humans that are applicable and effective? My opponent has offered no insight into this arena. Yes, great amounts of research are being conducted, but what positive results in human medicine stemming from this genetic research in animals (specifically what drugs or treatment have been created), has come to fruition? In addition, the acquisition of human DNA is relatively harmless to humans. Therefore, the study of human genetics for the same diseases mentioned by my opponent can be studied with the same rigor. So why use animal data?
My opponent again brings up cancer research as an effective argument for animal testing. My opponent again speaks about continuing research in the field using animal testing, specifically with monoclonal antibodies, interferons, interleukins, etc. My opponent also brings up that research in genetic testing and carcinogenicity testing combined with in vitro studies is causing researchers to more closely examine interleukins and adenoviruses. I challenge my opponent to consider how much did animal testing contribute to this desire to more closely examine these topics. Were animal studies or in vitro studies more conclusive. The simple fact that in vitro studies consider use of human cells would indicate that they were likely more effective in the study. Again, my opponent concedes that not all forms of cancer can be replicated in animals. She also states that other cancers are naturally appearing in animals. However, those cancers are not native to humans and cannot be extrapolated to human response.
In the case of Vioxx, which was removed from the US market in 2004, animal testing and human testing were likewise performed. The drug which was supposed to act as an anti-inflammatory had cardiovascular side effects in humans which did not appear in animal testing. Vioxx was first tested in animals and showed no evidence of cardiovascular failure. According to the VP of Clinical Research for Merck (the company who tested this drug) non-of the human trials confirmed that the drug prevented blood clotting so the company relied on animal studies in order to claim these results. The company was accused of falsifying data and using unreliable sources in order to get approval by the FDA. Generally, once human trials of the drug begin, these results become the most prominent and are relied upon to determine the drug's ultimate safety. Prior animal testing is performed only to ensure the drug as much as possible before commencing human trials. The Vioxx trials performed on green-monkeys were performed after human clinical trials found an increase in cardiovascular effects for patients taking the drug. It must also be noted, animal trials are more effective for certain types of modeling (ie. antibiotic modeling vs. systems modeling –particularly of the CNS but in this case of the cardiovascular system). Vioxx failed to recognize this in their studies of the cardiovascular system and used animal trials above human trials when relaying their results, an act that was highly controversial and seen by the scientific community as unethical.
The study of genetics envelops many types of research. The research of homology and plasticity between genetic material of differing species is used to determine the similarity between species on different traits. One result of this type of experimentation is to determine which animal species are most closely related to humans physiology and genetically dependent on the area of research. (Mice share 99% homology of their genes with humans making them useful in studies of human diseases.) This helps determine which animal would more accurately model a human response. Deliberately produced genetic diseases in animals will have pathologies like those of human diseases and finding cures in animals helps to finding similar cures for humans (Pines, Maya, ed. "Blazing the Genetic Trail." Bethesda, MD: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1991). In-vitro research can be performed using human DNA just as effectively as by using animal DNA. Recombination practices as well as insertion or deletion practice however, cannot be replicated in humans. These practices are integral for the study of progression of disease and effects on physiology as well as drug effects. In regards to protein homology, protein interaction is integral in many diseases and disorders. Treating these ailments is performed through methods of integration of proteins, mutation of proteins (particularly growth factors), interaction of proteins with antibiotics or other drugs, etc… Genetic studies of animals have led to advances in research on and production of drugs for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes just to name a few. Insulin for diabetes patients is the result of research with dogs, leprosy vaccines is from armadillos, treatments for Huntington's disease and polio first used research performed on primates. Vaccines such as the leukemia vaccine were also developed primarily as the result of animal testing. This research continues because of the numerous safe and effective drugs and vaccines which are developed through animal testing. Currently many new projects are taking place including research for a new TB vaccine (since TB strains are subject to resistance factors).
As for cancer, clearly there has not been a "cure all" cancer drug developed from animal research. What has been developed however, are many drugs and methods for treatment of cancer. While in-vitro studies may initially show correlation between drugs and their effects on cancer, these results are not conclusive without clinical trials. Clinical trials must be performed on animals prior to trials on humans to ensure the safety of drugs. Numerous treatments are developed and tested and are never passed to human trials because they do not first pass animal trials. I propose that it is more beneficial to humans to allow these treatments to be tested on animals before they are tested on humans, simply for more evidence of their safety. As shown with Vioxx nothing is ever 100 percent certain after animal trials, but it must be recognized that animal testing provides more evidence towards the safety of these drugs.
In conclusion, after analysis of the variant types of animal testing and the results it has produced and continues to produce, I suggest that the practice of performing research on animals should continue. Animal testing has been directly linked to improvements in human medicine through understanding of genetics, development of vaccines and other drugs, and further research into surgical procedures and cures for diseases. I feel that research performed on animals, is justifiable due to these contributions.
Despite that there have been advancements in human medicine based off of animal testing, the efficiency with which the animal testing leads to the creation of drugs that are effective for warding off disease and not detrimental to those taking is far too low to consider it the best mode of advancement for human medicine. My opponent has already conceded that there has not been a "cure all" cancer drug developed from animal research. Considering the vast amount of research has already been completed on animals concerning cancer, will a "cure all" cancer drug ever be developed from animal research? Based on the shortcomings so far, coupled with the vast differences in physiology between humans and animals, the future looks bleak. The idea that animal testing is the best method for advancement in medicine, given that little research (in comparison to animal testing) on alternatives to animal testing for the advancement of human medicine is preposterous. Animal testing spread rapidly as a new medical technology in the 19th century. Compared to similar technologies created in the same time period, not much of the tried and true original methods exist today. So why continue relying on an old science that continues to give marginal results?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: " Knowing the differences in biological function between animals and humans, with animal tests and human results being the same only 5 to 25 of the time, one cannot infer that animal testing is a "good" tool for understanding how humans may react to drug administration. " pro did not have a strong counter to this argument
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