Animal Research Dramatically Reduced

by Malc on December 25, 2008

Many of us don’t want animals to be used at all in research – even if we will thereby live longer; however, at the same time, we do want the medical advances which such research allows.

Better medical treatment of Alzheimers Disease or cancer, for example would be most welcome – especially if it was needed for ourselves or a close relative. And most of us would like to live a longer, healthier life. Some advances in these conditions do depend, sadly, on animal research.

mouse New Techniques

Happily, modern techniques have reduced the use of animals in research markedly. The use of rats and mice has reduced in some facilities by 80%.

At the same time, the results of testing have actually improved – largely because human cells can be used for much research.

Many experiments are being carried out on cells in test tubes. This is possible because skills have improved; and because of another controversial approach: the use of stem cells.

Stem Cells Are Vital – For Testing and Longevity

Most cells can divide and produce only copies of themselves. Stem cells, however, can differentiate into various body cells; hence their value. This means, for example, that a stem cell might be persuaded to divide and produce a heart cell or a muscle cell. This cluster of cells can then be used for accurate testing

Or, to further longevity, the cells can be grown into tissue for transplant. A recent story describes a case where longer life was certainly achieved by growing a person’s stem cells into part of a windpipe to replace their diseased one.

Stem Cell Controversy

From a longevity point of view, stem cells are the way in which organ replication will be enabled not far in the future.

The controversy over stem cells mainly centres around ’embryonic stem cells’. However, stem cells are available from other sources in adult bodies, such as bone marrow. Use of these cells in less controversial – though knee-jerk reactions against their use are in evidence. We mustn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Stem cells are so valuable to promote healthy aging and a longer life – because the tissue match can be perfect. Rejection by the body’s immune system is thus avoided.

Difficult Choices for Healthy Aging

The use of techniques such as using stem cells will mean fewer and fewer animals used in research as well as better results in many cases.

Until then, we face the difficult choice of balancing the amount of animal research with the reduction in human suffering such research – even at a reduced level – can bring.

  • Susan@Oceanside

    It will be quite interesting to see how research changes over the next decade.

    Susan’s last blog post..Top Broadway Tickets for the Week

  • Mark @ first wedding anniversary gift

    Hopefully they’ll be able to end all animal research soon.

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