Click the link above to listen to a podcast about the alternatives to animal testing!
In the last two months, we have seen multiple examples of alternatives to animal testing. This is only the tip of iceberg. Technology has opened a door of endless possibilities for research that we may see in the future. Some examples:
- in vitro
- computerized patients/models/simulations
- stem cell/genetic testing methods
- microdosing humans
- non-invasive imaging techniques
This controversial issue is extremely relevant to those entering the healthcare field. It is important to stay informed on the pros and cons of animal testing as well as the alternatives in order to take a stance on the subject. Recapitulating Chapter 1, the advantages of in vitro growth and computerized technology include: reliability, cost effectiveness, time efficient and cruelty free. The disadvantage of in vitro is that as of now, researchers cannot naturally observe a systemic reaction.
Animal testing happens more frequently than the average person believes. In the past we have seen numerous medical discoveries using animal subjects (in vivo). However, animal testing is not always accurate. The physiology is only slightly similar, not exact. An animal lives its life only knowing the walls of a cage and the occasional exposure to a laboratory setting. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of stress and might also affect results.
The literature mentioned in the previous chapters demonstrates how contemporary this topic is in our society. As seen in Chapter 3, CNN published an article regarding the debate. In Chapter 4, the study published in 2015 regarding a new method for testing toxins directly against human cells. This new method unintentionally eliminated the need for canine subjects.
In later chapters we see how animals are not only affected in laboratories. Chapter 5 talks about human interference with marine habitat. However there is hope for new alternatives, if the funding is provided.
There is always hope for change. Along with the advances in technology, animal rights activists have made it possible for science to move into this cruelty-free direction. Jacqueline Traide (see Ch. 7) , PETA and other organizations noted in the references have caused awareness to initiate legal changes. The public influences demand. These activists and artists have been the voice of animals.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have” —Margaret Mead.
scoopglobalnews.tumblr.com (cartoon image)
www.crueltyfreeinternational.org (cover image)
all other information references previous citations
On July 14, 2014 the bravery of a young girl went viral. The website, ArtFido.com, covered a story on Regent Street, London, that was heard across the globe…
24-year-old Jacqueline Traide is a performance artist who is so dedicated to raising awareness about animal testing, she willingly is “tortured like an animal” in the front window of Lush Cosmetics (which is in the center of a shopping plaza) for an entire day. The article made the point that a full day really exemplifies to the general public that animal testing is going on at this very moment.
However, the article failed to mention that realistically, one day is not enough time for the public to fully grasp the severity of animal testing. Even though the article glorified the signing of petitions, it is important to remember that when people see this inhumanity, they may or may not sign their names, and then move on with their lives. If the demonstration lasted longer than a day it would have shown what truly goes on behind the scenes as well as had an uttermost effect.
This performance all began when the Humane Society International and Lush Cosmetics teamed up. They established a campaign to abolish animal testing on cosmetic products. This campaign spread globally and changed the viewpoints of many people.
The article successfully indicated that using Jacqueline as a puppet allowed people to relate to her painful expressions as a human, and then further understand the true suffering of animal testing. This is very important for the viewers and readers to remember the next time they hear of the controversy.
Jacqueline Traide underwent ten hours of experiments that day which include: having her head shaven, chemicals being poured into her eyes, injected with a number of products, skin braised and more. To make matters worse she was pinned down, force-fed to the point of choking, as well as strained into two metal hooks that kept her mouth open during some of these procedures. Once the researcher had no more use for her, they threw her in the dumpster just as one would in a typical research lab.
Still, the article omitted some key aspects normally involved in animal testings. For example, an animal is ordinarily observed and tested on much longer than a day, rather than being discarded almost immediately. Typically an animal will await more tests in small, metal cages. Also, the chemicals used on animals can cause many extreme and visible side effects, none of which were seen in the display. One can only wonder if placebo drugs were used on Jacqueline Traide. Ergo, this article did not mention certain features that are salient to understanding animal testing.
Nevertheless, this ‘day in the life’ of animal subjects made a bold statement that jump-started the legislation process needed to make animal testing of cosmetics illegal. Sometimes that is necessary for change. The article may have left out some flaws in the display, but overall it helped change the minds in regards to animal testing. Jacqueline Traide is the voice of animals, who suffer silently day after day.
To see the full length video click the link below
OR to read the full lengthed article, click the link below
“The Best Kind of Research, the kind that helps people without harming other beings” – Kathy Guillermo, VP Lab Investigations PETA
(information and all pictures are from this site)
1.) What does ‘alternatives to animal testing’ actually mean?
Alternatives to animal testing can be subdivided into three classifications, also known as ‘the 3 R’s’, which include: replacement, reduction and refinement. Replacement testing either does not involve animals at all, which is known as absolute replacement, or there are studies where only the tissues of animals in a petri dish are used, known as relative replacement.
Reduction alternative testing can be defined as reducing the number of animals used in research. Lastly, refinement alternative testing involves minimizing the pain and suffering endured by the animals used in testing.
2.) What are some examples of the alternatives to animal testing?
There are many alternatives that we see advertised in our daily lives that at one point involved animal testing. For example, pregnancy tests used to involve killing a rabbit in order to know a woman’s pregnancy status. Now the replacement alternative is a small kit available at any drugstore or pharmacy.
Technology is a huge factor that can ultimately change the world of animal testing. Computer modeling devices can replace many forms of animal use whether it be in the classroom or the laboratory. Other types of replacement models can also be used such as manikins or plastic replicas.
Another replacement alternative on the rise is the use of in vitro human skin. Instead of testing chemical products on the skin of animals, we can now use a more accurate method involving synthetic skin cells grown from a human donor.
Other alternatives that reduce the number of animals used involves “sharing research animals”. For example if one animal was used for an experiment and ends up passing away, we can still harvest their organs for other purposes in order to save another animal of a similar fate.
3.) What types of animals are typically used for research purposes?
Rodents including: rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters make up the majority. Also dogs, cats, amphibians, fish, birds, non-human primates and more.
4.) What are the advantages of animal testing?
In the past when technology was not an option, animal testing has led to countless medical discoveries such as chemotherapies like vaccines, organ transplantation and more. Studies have also led to perfecting surgical techniques, as well as a better understanding of other pathologies (such as Alzheimer’s Disease, ASL, diabetes, cancers and many more).
5.) What are the disadvantages of animal testing?
Along with the cruelty inflicted on innocent creatures, there are numerous disadvantages that have recently come to light through modern technologies. One drawback of animal testing is that an animal’s anatomy differs from that of humans. Therefore we cannot always rely on the results observed because the outcome may be completely different when presented to the human body. Another hindrance of animal testing is that it can be very time consuming and costly. With modern technology, multiple tests can be done at once. This cuts down the cost and time needed to obtain results.
6.) How do laboratories obtain these animals in the first place?
Many of the animals used for research and educational purposes are bred for that sole purpose. This includes rodents, dogs, primates etc. There are many standards that must be met by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Animal Welfare Act in order to breed these animals. These laws and restrictions require both money and time provided by breeding corporations to hoard these animals. Consequently, they are not always carried out properly.
Sometimes animals are obtained from pounds, but there are very strict guidelines that must be followed and therefore it is not always an option. Animals are put down in shelters everyday when they are not claimed, while other animals are bred for the sole purpose of enduring pain. It is unfortunate that this red tape causes so many lives to be wasted.
This blog has repeatedly advocated the rights of animals suffering in research laboratories, mainly rodents, dogs, cats etc. However it is no surprise that other walks of life are greatly affected by human interaction.
According to the Green Peace Organization, we will see other forms of testing that will greatly affect marine life as well as oceanic ecosystems in the near future. The ocean makes up about 70% of our planet and the wide range of biodiversity is the main source of revenue of many economies along the coast as well as for islander communities.
President Obama has permitted seismic testing and sonar testing by the United States Navy in hopes to find oil sources in places below sea level – where marine species live and prosper.
Seismic testing include airguns that are used to explore oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor. They give off deafening impulses on a recurring basis. Similar to echolocation, when the sound waves ‘bounce back’ these scientists are able to locate oil deposits. The noises generated from the airgun impacts fish, invertebrate, along with the endangered marine mammal population.
To make matters worse, the United States plans to search the ocean floor along the East and West coast of America. This will not only deplete already endangered species, but will also affect fisheries and overall economy. These impulses will cause harm and possibly kill animals in close proximity to the airgun. As for animals at great distances away, it will still be deafening and cause behavioral differences, such as changing their migration patterns for breeding and feeding.
Nevertheless, we all know that the oil industry and gas prices are a huge concern for this country that must be addressed. But what if there was an alternative to the seismic airgun testing?
According to Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea, out of Monterey, CA, USA there have been promising technologies for the near future that can produce the same quality effects of an airgun, without impacting marine life.
It has been found that “controlled sources, such as marine vibrators (e.g., hydraulic, electric, etc.)” can reduce the peak amplitudes, consequently reducing the frequencies of sound projected onto the ocean’s floor. This sweep (instead of an impulse) is accomplished by dispersing the energy at lower doses over time. Also, a technique known as pseudo noise (PN) sequences reduces the amplitude as well.
Both of these new alternatives do not decrease the quality of data. The worth is synonymous to the seismic airgun testing. They simply decrease the potential consequences. However it is clearly noted in Okeanos’ report that more research and funding must be included to fully understand the long term effects of these technologies.
If we invade ecosystems searching for oil without considering the consequences, future generations will be greatly affected. A project as controversial as this deserves further thought and examination of alternatives before drastic measures are taken and we are left with irreversible damage.
“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”
— Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer
A recent study shows a promising future for non-animal testing. In June of 2015, a group of researchers from the University of Torino, residing in Italy, went public with their findings. “Electrochemistry of Canis familiaris cytochrome P450 2D15 with gold nanoparticles: An alternative to animal testing in drug discovery” has opened the door for more modern and more accurate findings to follow.
This research involves the extensive study of the Canis familiaris cytochrome P450 2D15, a specific portion of the canine’s cytochromes, located in the inner membrane of the mitochondria. According to the study, Canis familiaris is “one of the most widely studied animal models used in safety determination of new pharmaceuticals” (110). Typically the canine hepatic cytochromes P450 are targeted to test the toxicological effects of pharmaceuticals, even though they are only about 75% similar to human cytochromes. Although this number seems reasonable for comparison, wouldn’t it be comforting to compare cytochromes with 100% identicality?
These researchers report the first ever recombinant expression and purification of Canis familiaris by first amplifying liver cDNA from a canine subject, cloning it into an expression vector, and then fusing with a protein to form ‘native P450 enzymes’. Once purified through isolation methods, the P450 2D15 enzyme was immobilized on a glassy carbon. They performed this through two techniques:
- Entrapping the enzyme using specific volumes of proteins and surfactant solutions before dropping it on the glassy carbon.
- Immobilizing the enzyme using DDAB (didoeclyimethylammonium bromide) stabilized gold nanoparticles.
The purpose of these materials is to perform electrocatalysis experiments using chronoamperometry. The results identified all mutations of the Canis familiaris liver cDNA. According to their results, “These values are in the range of other electrochemically determined midpoint potentials reported in the literature for different human P450 enzymes” ( 113).
To view the full article, please click the link below!
This new study contains a lot of vocabulary that is difficult to absorb, however the development of this electrochemical platform can be used to screen animal cytochromes, which is a step in the right direction for reducing the need for animal testing. Through this new platform there are higher levels of predictability and accuracy in the animal models. Once a cell is isolated and purified, they can test a desired drug directly on the cell, and further analysis can determine a detailed list of mutations within that exposed cell.
According to their conclusions, this method of pharmaceutical testing “brings us a step closer to the realization of an in vitro electrochemical toxicity screening, an alternative to in vivo animal testing and sacrifice” (115).
Another possible outcome of this new technology includes the additional cloning of these purified cells, which can lead to further reduction of animal subjects. Also, examination of the diversity between human and animal cells can give rise to a more reliable interpretation of the data introduced (not just when comparing canines to humans).
If successful, we can undoubtedly say whether or not the effects of an animal will be the same as in human trials. Thanks to the advancements in technology, we will no longer question the level of diversity between species. Hopefully, the differences between beings will be seen as too great for researchers to even consider animal testing.
It is no secret that animal testing is a controversial subject. There are both pros and cons. Experiments involving animal testing, has led to countless discoveries in medicine. However, this blog will focus on the modern technologies we will most likely see in the near future, as well as shed some light on the perspective from the other side of the scalpel…
In April of 2015, an article posted on the CNN Fox news website questions this controversy in “Animal Testing – the Pros and Cons”. Here they mention two advantages, and five disadvantages to testing on animals, then ask the readers to make a judgement call. Still, a summarized article does not suffice the level of complexity in this issue.
For the full article,
The advantages stated in paragraph two read, “When used for drug testing, and to a lesser extend for cosmetic testing, and to a lesser extent for cosmetics testing, should make it safer for humans to use these products without unacceptable risks of significant side effects occurring.”
There is no doubt that in the past, testing pharmaceutics on animals has confirmed thousands of drugs, leading to thousands of new milestones in medicine. But now the unfortunate truth is that these experiments are more often than not done for cosmetic companies, not towards therapeutics or cures. When the public envisions an animal’s suffering contributing to human lives, it seems justifiable. Alas, this is most likely not the case. In fact, according to CBS news, the number of animals used is increased drastically within the last 15 years (2).
It is important to be aware of recent technological advancements. For example, products can be directly tested on in-vitro human cells and tissues now which is more accurate and time consuming (See chapter 2: Cosmetic Testing). It is also important to be skeptic about all journalism; for sometimes we’re not seeing the whole picture.
CNN Fox News also points out five disadvantages of testing on animals. All five pertain to cosmetics being a luxury rather than life threatening therefore it is even more inhumane, as well as mentioning that there must be other forms of applied science to substitute animal subjects.
This did not exactly address the new technologies available today and the many benefits they also have to offer. Thankfully, recent proclamation of animals rights has led to a demand in non-animal testing methods. As mentioned in previous blog entries, there are many including: in-vitro, stem cell research, computer methods and more. The notable benefits of these techniques being: time consuming, cost effective, faster, cleaner, the ability to test multiple products at once, and not to mention, cruelty free.
Despite the fact that this article was a mere summary of the contentious situation, it still lacked adequate information in order for the reader to make a valid stance on the matter.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”
–Martin Luther King Jr.