According to the US-based Foundation for Biomedical Research, 'animal
research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance
of the last century - for both human and veterinary 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 lab animals.'
In the last five years in the UK, no fewer than three independent inquiries have been carried out into the effectiveness of animal research in developing medicines for human use. The House of Lords Select Committee, the Parliamentary Animal Procedures Committee and the independent Nuffield Council on Bioethics all concluded that testing on animals is a scientifically sound method, has yielded great results in the past, and is crucial for future advances. Anti-vivisectionists continue to call for public inquiries and will continue to do so until they get the result they want -- which will never be forthcoming, given the overwhelming scientific evidence in favour of animal research.
But animal research hasn't benefited humans alone. Animals also have
improved healthcare and a longer lifespan. Farm animals, household pets,
wild species and endangered species are all benefiting from the research
conducted through animals. There are vaccines for rabies, distemper, tetanus,
parvo virus and numerous other illnesses in cats, dogs and countless other
domesticated animals. Cats now have a treatment for Feline Leukemia. It's
obvious that animal research benefits all living species and that we are
all able to live longer, healthier, happier lives because of it.
In fact, 71 of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine won in the last 103 years were awarded to scientists who used animals in their research.
Examples of Benefits
Here are some examples of the benefits yielded from animal research. The animals used follow in brackets (source). The list is far from comprehensive!
Smallpox (cow): The vaccinia vaccine against smallpox was derived from the cowpox
virus used by Edward Jenner following his observation that farm workers
who contracted cowpox were protected against smallpox - It has now been eradicated
from earth. Polio has been eradicated from North America and people in countries
all over the world are being successfully treated (mouse and monkey). Insulin
is now able to help control diabetes (dog, fish). There are vaccines for
tetanus (horse), rubella (monkey), anthrax (sheep), and rabies (dog, rabbit).
Animal testing has also led to advances in our knowledge that may help us develop additional cures, including an understanding of the Malaria lifecycle (pigeon), tuberculosis (cow, sheep),
Typhus (guinea pig, rat, mouse), and the function of neurons (cat, dog). Vivisection was also crucial in the discovery of anti-blood-clotting drugs for the treatment of haemophilia (cat), penicillin (mouse), open heart surgery
and cardiac pacemakers (dog), lithium (rat, guinea pig), treatment for leprosy
(armadillo), organ transplantations (dog, sheep, cow, pig), laproscopic
surgical techniques (pig), and a drug for AIDS treatment (monkey).
Understanding Animal Research have developed a new booklet entitled <> which outlines many important advances developed through the use of animal research, as well as explaining the importance of such techniques in the future. This booklet can be viewed or downloaded from our website here.