Animal Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions: If we don't use animals, what will we use?
An Animal Rights Article from


AFMA Americans for Medical Advancement
March 2006

If we don't use animals, what will we use?

Note that this view assumes that animal experiments have been responsible for medical advances in the past. If this were true, the concern would be valid. But it is not. Benchmarks in medical history have relied on the following nonanimal-based methodologies, as will future developments:

In vitro research or test tube research on living tissue has been instrumental for many of the great discoveries. Though human tissue has not always been employed; it could have been, because it has always been in ample supply. Blood, tissue and organ cultures are ideal test-beds for the efficacy and toxicity of medications.

Epidemiology is the study of populations of humans to determine factors that could account for the prevalence of the disease among them, or for their disease immunity. Combined with genetic research and other non-animal methods enumerated here, it provides very accurate information about whole systems.

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi reveal basic cell properties.

Autopsy and cadavers are used for clarifying disease and teaching operating techniques such as fracture fixation, spine stabilization, ligament reconstruction, and other procedures.

Physical models can be made for studying the wear on joints and other physiology.

Genetic research has elucidated many genes that are responsible for specific diseases. Since physicians can now ascertain their patients' predisposition to certain diseases, they can monitor them more carefully as well as suggest optimal nutrition, lifestyle and medications.

Clinical research on patients shows how humans respond to different treatments and determine whether or not one treatment is superior to another. We can attribute our fundamental knowledge of disease and hospital care to clinical research.

Post-marketing drug surveillance (PMDS) is the reporting process whereby every effect and side effect of a new medication are reported to a monitoring agency, eg., the FDA. (Despite its obvious benefits, post-marketing drug surveillance is presently practiced erratically as reporting methods are neither easy nor required.)

Mathematical and computer modeling is a complex research method that employs mathematics to simulate living systems and chemical reactions.

Technology is largely responsible for the high standard of care we receive today. MRI scanners, CAT scanners, PET scanners, X-rays, ultrasound, blood gas analysis machines, blood chemistry analysis machines, pulmonary artery catheters, arterial catheters, microscopes, monitoring devices, lasers, anesthesia machines and monitors, operating room equipment, computer based equipment, sutures, the heart-lung machine, pacemakers, electrocardiograms, electroencephalograms, bone and joint replacements, staplers, laparoscopic surgery, the artificial kidney machine and many more are examples of technological breakthroughs.

Specialization also saves countless lives. For example, the field of pathology allowed better understanding of diseases. Specialization of medical care into disciplines such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, infectious diseases etc. allows physicians to increase and share their understanding of one field. Specialized areas of care in the hospital, like the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU), cardiac ICU, and surgical ICU, improve patient care. Nurses, specially trained for the operating room or the ICU better administer to patients.

Go on to: Animal Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions: What about the claim that animal experimentation is necessary because there are no other whole system models for metabolic processes other than animals?

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