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AC Winter 2010 Medical Issues Animals in Medical Research

AC Winter 2010 Medical Issues Animals in Medical Research -...

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The Essential Need for Animals in Medical Research Frankie L. Trull October 05, 2005 Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century – for both  human and animal health. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to organ-transplantation, from  vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present day protocol  for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained  through research with animals. Within the American animal rights movement, there is a small but vocal anti-research element that seeks to  diminish the importance of animal studies, claiming that the results of animal research can’t be applied to  human health. However, physicians and researchers overwhelmingly agree that animal systems provide  invaluable and irreplaceable insights into human systems because there are striking similarities between our  physiological and genetic systems. Approximately 95 percent of all lab animals are specialty-bred rats and mice. Non-human primates account  for less than  ¼  of one per cent; dogs and cats combined, less than  ½  of one percent. The balance includes  rabbits, guinea pigs, woodchucks, pigs, sheep, armadillos, leeches, zebra fish, squid, horseshoe crab, sea  snails and fruit flies. Rodents are the animal model of choice for modern medical researchers because they have a naturally short  life span – two to three years – that allows scientists to observe in “fast forward” what happens during the  progress or pathogenesis of a disease. Advances in genetic engineering have enabled scientists to develop  excellent rodent models for research. The availability of “transgenic mice” (which have added genes) and 
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