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Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: A Historical Perspective.

Franco NH - Animals (Basel) (2013)

Bottom Line: The use of non-human animals in biomedical research has given important contributions to the medical progress achieved in our day, but it has also been a cause of heated public, scientific and philosophical discussion for hundreds of years.This review, with a mainly European outlook, addresses the history of animal use in biomedical research, some of its main protagonists and antagonists, and its effect on society from Antiquity to the present day, while providing a historical context with which to understand how we have arrived at the current paradigm regarding the ethical treatment of animals in research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 823, 4150-180 Porto, Portugal. nfranco@ibmc.up.pt.

ABSTRACT
The use of non-human animals in biomedical research has given important contributions to the medical progress achieved in our day, but it has also been a cause of heated public, scientific and philosophical discussion for hundreds of years. This review, with a mainly European outlook, addresses the history of animal use in biomedical research, some of its main protagonists and antagonists, and its effect on society from Antiquity to the present day, while providing a historical context with which to understand how we have arrived at the current paradigm regarding the ethical treatment of animals in research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

A large advertisement published in the 13 May 1991 edition of The Hour (p. 9), and part of a campaign in defense of animal research, sponsored by the United States Surgical Corporation. While the value of Pasteur’s work is undeniable, there is, however, no scientific grounding for the claim that only by experimenting on dogs would a vaccine for rabies have been developed, or that other animal models or even non-animal methods could not have been used to achieve this in over a century. These dramatic and biased portraits of animal research are now more uncommon, as an increasing number of scientists acknowledge the need to be more candid and open to objective discussion over the possibilities and limitations of animal research, and of the scientific process altogether.
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animals-03-00238-f006: A large advertisement published in the 13 May 1991 edition of The Hour (p. 9), and part of a campaign in defense of animal research, sponsored by the United States Surgical Corporation. While the value of Pasteur’s work is undeniable, there is, however, no scientific grounding for the claim that only by experimenting on dogs would a vaccine for rabies have been developed, or that other animal models or even non-animal methods could not have been used to achieve this in over a century. These dramatic and biased portraits of animal research are now more uncommon, as an increasing number of scientists acknowledge the need to be more candid and open to objective discussion over the possibilities and limitations of animal research, and of the scientific process altogether.

Mentions: From the impact of Singer’s and Regan’s works in society and the academic world, “animal ethics” would emerge as a whole new field of philosophical and bioethical studies, and, with it, new and diverse ethical views on animals—including on animal research—and of our duties towards them. However, despite the diversity of philosophical views on the use of animals, the public debate on animal research would become polarized between animal rights activists and animal research advocates. While the first would uphold an uncompromising abolitionist stand, one could also find on the opposite side several persons who did not regard animal research as a moral issue at all [167]. Furthermore, and despite the debate in the philosophical ground remained civilized—even between diametrically opposed perspectives, see, for example, [168]—in the “real world” the antagonism began to build up. In the 1970s, animal rights extremist groups began resorting to terrorist actions, thus becoming a serious problem for researchers and authorities in several Western countries still today. These actions more often consist of trespassing, raiding animal facilities and laboratories, damage to property, harassment and death threats to researchers, their families and neighbors. It has also sometimes escalated into kidnapping, car and mail bombings, arson of homes and research facilities, mailing of AIDS-contaminated razorblades, and violence against scientists and their family members [169,170]. These actions, which have been classified as unjustifiable and damaging to the animal rights cause by Tom Regan himself [171], made researchers close themselves within their community and avoid speaking publicly about their work [172,173,174], which in turn left pro-research advocacy to emotion-appealing campaigns, of the likes of the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s “Will I be alright, Doctor?” film [175], or the advertisement depicted in Figure 6.


Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: A Historical Perspective.

Franco NH - Animals (Basel) (2013)

A large advertisement published in the 13 May 1991 edition of The Hour (p. 9), and part of a campaign in defense of animal research, sponsored by the United States Surgical Corporation. While the value of Pasteur’s work is undeniable, there is, however, no scientific grounding for the claim that only by experimenting on dogs would a vaccine for rabies have been developed, or that other animal models or even non-animal methods could not have been used to achieve this in over a century. These dramatic and biased portraits of animal research are now more uncommon, as an increasing number of scientists acknowledge the need to be more candid and open to objective discussion over the possibilities and limitations of animal research, and of the scientific process altogether.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4495509&req=5

animals-03-00238-f006: A large advertisement published in the 13 May 1991 edition of The Hour (p. 9), and part of a campaign in defense of animal research, sponsored by the United States Surgical Corporation. While the value of Pasteur’s work is undeniable, there is, however, no scientific grounding for the claim that only by experimenting on dogs would a vaccine for rabies have been developed, or that other animal models or even non-animal methods could not have been used to achieve this in over a century. These dramatic and biased portraits of animal research are now more uncommon, as an increasing number of scientists acknowledge the need to be more candid and open to objective discussion over the possibilities and limitations of animal research, and of the scientific process altogether.
Mentions: From the impact of Singer’s and Regan’s works in society and the academic world, “animal ethics” would emerge as a whole new field of philosophical and bioethical studies, and, with it, new and diverse ethical views on animals—including on animal research—and of our duties towards them. However, despite the diversity of philosophical views on the use of animals, the public debate on animal research would become polarized between animal rights activists and animal research advocates. While the first would uphold an uncompromising abolitionist stand, one could also find on the opposite side several persons who did not regard animal research as a moral issue at all [167]. Furthermore, and despite the debate in the philosophical ground remained civilized—even between diametrically opposed perspectives, see, for example, [168]—in the “real world” the antagonism began to build up. In the 1970s, animal rights extremist groups began resorting to terrorist actions, thus becoming a serious problem for researchers and authorities in several Western countries still today. These actions more often consist of trespassing, raiding animal facilities and laboratories, damage to property, harassment and death threats to researchers, their families and neighbors. It has also sometimes escalated into kidnapping, car and mail bombings, arson of homes and research facilities, mailing of AIDS-contaminated razorblades, and violence against scientists and their family members [169,170]. These actions, which have been classified as unjustifiable and damaging to the animal rights cause by Tom Regan himself [171], made researchers close themselves within their community and avoid speaking publicly about their work [172,173,174], which in turn left pro-research advocacy to emotion-appealing campaigns, of the likes of the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s “Will I be alright, Doctor?” film [175], or the advertisement depicted in Figure 6.

Bottom Line: The use of non-human animals in biomedical research has given important contributions to the medical progress achieved in our day, but it has also been a cause of heated public, scientific and philosophical discussion for hundreds of years.This review, with a mainly European outlook, addresses the history of animal use in biomedical research, some of its main protagonists and antagonists, and its effect on society from Antiquity to the present day, while providing a historical context with which to understand how we have arrived at the current paradigm regarding the ethical treatment of animals in research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 823, 4150-180 Porto, Portugal. nfranco@ibmc.up.pt.

ABSTRACT
The use of non-human animals in biomedical research has given important contributions to the medical progress achieved in our day, but it has also been a cause of heated public, scientific and philosophical discussion for hundreds of years. This review, with a mainly European outlook, addresses the history of animal use in biomedical research, some of its main protagonists and antagonists, and its effect on society from Antiquity to the present day, while providing a historical context with which to understand how we have arrived at the current paradigm regarding the ethical treatment of animals in research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus