ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL RESEARCH
UBC would have us believe that animal experiments have been responsible for medical advances in the past. However, the real benchmarks of medical progress have relied on the following non-animal methodologies:
- In vitro (test tube) research has been instrumental in many of the great discoveries – of antibiotics, for example, and the structure of DNA, as well as all the vaccines we have today, including polio and meningitis.
- Epidemiology (population research) revealed that folic acid deficiency causes birth defects, that smoking causes lung cancer and that lead damages children’s brains.
- Post-mortem studies are responsible for much of our modern medical knowledge – including the repair of congenital heart defects in babies.
- Genetic research has elucidated how certain genes are responsible for some diseases. DNA chips allow doctors to prescribe the right drug for specific patients, thus reducing serious side effects of chemotherapy, for example.
- Clinical studies of patients have given us most of our current treatments and cures – including our treatments of lazy eye and the knowledge that HIV transmission from mother to baby can be prevented.
- Human tissue is vital in the study of human disease and drug testing – animal tissues differ in crucial ways.
- Computer modeling is now very sophisticated, with virtual human organs and virtual metabolism programs that predict drug effects in humans far more accurately than animals can.
- Advances in technology are largely responsible for the high standard of medical care we receive today, including MRI and PET scanners, ultrasound, laser surgery, cochlear implants, laparascopic surgery, artificial organs, pacemakers and even surgery to correct spina bifida in the womb.
- Human stem cells have already treated children with leukemia and promise to deliver great benefits in the future.