Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, wrote a nice op-ed about animal research that was picked up by the Orlando Sentinel. I particularly liked her summary of the important role that animal research has played in improving the lot of humankind,
Advances in genetic engineering have enabled scientists to develop excellent rodent models for research. The availability of “transgenic mice” (which have added genes) and “knock-out mice” (which have disabled genes) has revolutionized our understanding of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, memory loss, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries. The so-called “nude mouse” — lacking a functioning immune system — has become an incredibly important model for understanding cancer suppression.
Thanks to animal research, many diseases that once killed millions of people every year are either treatable or have been eradicated altogether. Immunizations against polio, diphtheria, mumps, rubella and hepatitis save countless lives, and the survival rates from many major diseases are at an all-time high, thanks to the discovery of new drugs, medical devices and surgical procedures. According to the American Cancer Society, the fight against cancer has seen 24 significant biomedical advances in the past 30 years.
None of them could have occurred without animal research.
Eight of the discoveries required the use of living animals, and virtually all of those that did not use animals relied on information gained from earlier animal studies. Six of the discoveries were recognized with a Nobel Prize, among them: the bone-marrow transplantation technique; cloning of the first gene; and discovery of proto-oncogenes in normal DNA, showing that a normal cell could have latent cancer genes.
And, of course, animal rights activists lie and distort the realities of almost every one of those discoveries. The other day, for example, I ran across a site where the author was claiming that animal research played no role at all in the isolation of the AIDS virus.
If that’s true, I have to ask this: what exactly were the rabbits that Gallo used in December 1983 to produce the first HIV-specific reagent which allowed him to test for the presence of HIV? This test was crucial in allowing Gallo to follow Since they were not animals, were these vegetables or minerals?
Currently marketed tests for HIV typically use a variety of animal antibodies. I cannot wait for animal rights activists to produce an alternative taxonomy which explains how these animals are not really animals but something else — or else, confess that they know very little about medical research aside from what they copy and paste from the same tired “factsheets”.
Animal-test research has saved many human lives. Frankie L. Trull, The Orlando Sentinel, April 7, 2002.