Alternatives to Animal Testing, Experimentation and Dissection Articles from

How Medical Breakthroughs Were Discovered Without Animal Experimentation

From PRISM, People for Reason in Science and Medicine
May 2010


HYPOTHERMIA (cooling the body before surgery)

In 1757 direct observation of persons exposed to cold for long periods showed that they could survive and was written about by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. A drunken Swede was nearly buried alive but survived. In 1798 Dr. James Currie had human volunteers take prolonged baths in cold water. He discovered that their heart rate was reduced. This information is now used to reduce the heart rate in patients before surgery.


Regarding vivisectors Frederick Banting and Charles Best who were credited with the discovery of insulin for diabetes by experimenting on dogs, doctors and scientists have made their opinions clear.

…a wrongly conceived, wrongly conducted, and wrongly interpreted series of experiments. – Dr. F. Roberts – British Medical Journal

The scientists Banting and Best were incorrectly credited with the discovery of insulin. – Dr. M. Barron

There is no laboratory method of inducing diabetes…which is exactly comparable to the clinical condition. At best we can get only crude approximation. The dangers of arguing from one species to another, or even from one strain to another of the same species are certainly not to be neglected. – Dr. F.G. Yung, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of London

Arguments based on the insulin requirements of the depancreatised dog and cat applied to human diabetes are quantitatively dangerous. – Dr. F.G. Young, D.Sc., PhD, F.R,S.

The causes of diabetes mellitus remain unknown in both man and animals. In spite of certain species similarities, there are a number of important differences – differences in clinical manifestation, in autological factors and in the liability to certain long-term complications of the disease. – Dr. Harry Keen, BSc, M.R.C.P.

The means of separating from the pancreas the active principle, which Professor Schafer, a renowned physiologist had already in 1915 designated insulin, was repeated by Banting who demonstrated it on a medical colleague who suffered from the disease. However, the numerous experiments made by Banting on thousands of dogs proved nothing of value to human medicine, since, as is scientifically recognized, the dogs were not suffering from diabetes…The discovery isolation and application of insulin was a clinical one.– M. Beddow Bayly, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

Dr. Banting, Canada’s medical hero, who is popularly and erroneously credited with the discovery of insulin by extirpating the pancreases of thousands of dogs, did not cause diabetes, but stress. – J.A. Pratt – Journal of the History of Medicine – 1954

Side effects of insulin treatment include an unusually high incidence of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and gangrene. This, some medical men believe, is due to the foreign nature of animal insulin. – A.L. Notkins - Scientific American - 1979


Vivisection is often given credit for the discovery of penicillin. The facts are much more complicated.

In 1922, Scottish-born Dr. Alexander Fleming, in London, infected with a cold, left a petri dish containing his own mucus uncovered and went away for two weeks. When he came back, he discovered a substance in the mucus that inhibited bacterial growth and named it lysozyme. He discovered that lysozyme was only effective in killing a small number of harmful bacteria and lost interest in it. But it piqued his interest in molds and in 1928, Fleming left another uncovered petri dish near a window and again observed that bacteria near the mold were dying. He isolated the mold and identified it as a member of the Penicillium genus. He found it to be effective against Gram-positive pathogens which can cause scarlet fever, pneumonia, diphtheria and more. He published a paper on his discovery that was largely ignored.

He tested his serum on mice and rabbits and his rabbit experiments were a complete failure. Because of this, he assumed that the serum wouldn’t work in humans and put his discovery on a shelf except to use it occasionally on topical infections but never on people with systemic infections.

In 1940, three scientists, Dr. Howard Florey, Dr. Ernst Chain and Dr. Norman Heatley became interested in Fleming’s paper on penicillin and tested it on 50 mice. Half the mice died and the half who had been injected with penicillin lived. At this point, the three vivisectors decided they had enough information to give the drug to humans. In September,1940, an Oxford police constable who was near death from a scratch that had become infected with streptococci and staphylococci, which had spread throughout his body, became the first person that Florey and Chain injected with the drug. After five days of injections the policeman died but Florey and Chain blamed it on not having enough of the drug to inject into him. They proceeded to come up with ways to mass produce the drug, more testing on humans went forward to great success and penicillin went on to save many lives of soldiers in World War I.

All four of the men involved in developing penicillin were vivisectors and believed that animal tests must procede human testing. Fleming believed because the tests in rabbits failed that penicillin would not work in humans and over a decade passed before the drug was given to humans because Fleming refused to treat people with systemic infections with his drug. The other three men believed that because their test on mice was successful, they should try it in people. They ignored the rabbit tests and if they had tried the drug on other animals like hamsters and guinea pigs the animals would have died. Sadly, and ironically, Florey killed his own cat with penicillin. But like all vivisectors past and present, finding an animal that will not be killed by whatever drug they are hoping to eventually try on humans is their goal and so they pick and choose which animal tests they will believe.

If Fleming had continued to test in petri dishes to great success, bypassed fraudulent animal testing and proceeded to carefully administer the drug to humans whose lives were already severely threatened by massive infections, penicillin could have been in use in the late 20s or early 30s. Many lives would have been saved. But because of his belief in vivisection they died. Nevertheless, these four men were given high honors for creating a very useful drug, and all the animals they needlessly tortured are long forgotten.

POSITIVE PRESSURE VENTILATION (blowing air into the lungs during surgery)

Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbruch (1975-1951) a German surgeon who took part in research on prisoners in concentration camps during World War II, created positive pressure ventilation to keep the lungs from collapsing during surgery but withdrew the technique when it proved harmful to animals. In 1891, American surgeon George Fell decided to use it anyway and used it successfully on humans.


Dr. Jack Gibbon tested it on cats, then humans. The humans died. Then other doctors perfected it while using it on human patients. Dr. Anthony Andreason created the low flow theory – that less blood would have to be used than the amount in the body by observing that war injured soldiers could survive on less blood than originally thought.


Grew out of ventricular septal defect surgery. To prevent deaths during heart surgery due to stoppage of electrical activity the pacemaker was developed to keep the electrical activity going and to keep the heart from giving out.

The pacemaker was invented by the Canadian John Hopps in 1950. He was an electrical engineer who was doing research on hypothermia. Unlike some other inventions, the development and history of the pacemaker is clearly understood. Hopps was an engineer at Manitoba University in 1941 when he went to the National Research Council. He was working with radio frequencies and how it can be used to bring up body temperature. It was then he learned that a heart that stops due to cooling can be restarted. The way to do it was with mechanical or electrical methods. This discovery helped him conceive of the pacemaker. His creation in 1950 though, could not be fitted in the body; it was the external type.

Even before Hopps’ invention, there were other researchers who had done some experiments. A study of the history of the pacemaker suggests J. A. McWilliams was the first. In 1889 he wrote a report in the British Medical Journal of his experiments. McWilliams said applying electrical impulses on the heart led to ventricular contraction. His experiment showed heart beats 70 per minute could be attained by these impulses.
This was followed in 1926 by the findings of Dr. Mark Lidwell of Sydney. He invented an apparatus that strongly resembled the pacemaker. In 1932 the American physiologist Albert Hyman devised an instrument which he called the artificial pacemaker. It was the first time the term had been used. However, he never continued with his experiments.
The history of the pacemaker witnessed more inventions and improvements in the 1960s and 1970s. Wilson Greatbatch improved on the Swedish pacemakers when he utilized a mercury battery. In 1962, transvenous pacing was used with the pacemaker for the first time. It took place in the U.S. and was also done in France and Sweden. The 1970s saw the emergence of lithium iodize cells. These replaced the mercury batteries and were longer lasting. The casing of the pacemaker also improved in the 1970s as titanium was used.

Today the device has become an invaluable tool for heart patients and doctors. Judging by the history of the pacemaker, one can expect more improvements and technological aids to be implemented. – From Who Invented It


The cage ball valve was almost withheld from human patients because it killed dogs in the lab. Drs. A. Starr and L. Edwards found that it worked on humans even though it killed dogs.


In 1667 Jean Dennis, physician to Louis the 14th, transfused blood from animals to humans and killed people. Blood typing was discovered by an American scientist without animal experiments and that led to successful blood transfusions.

In 1900 Karl Landsteiner found out that the blood of two people under contact agglutinates. In 1901 he discovered that this effect was due to contact of blood with blood serum. As a result, he succeeded in identifying the three blood groups A, B and O (which he labelled C) of human blood. Landsteiner also found out that blood transfusions between persons with the same blood group did not lead to the destruction of blood cells, whereas this did occur between persons of different blood groups. In 1909 he classified the blood of human beings into the now well-known A,B,AB, and O groups.
In 1937, when a woman nearly bled to death after receiving a transfusion of blood from her husband whose blood type matched her own, Karl Landsteiner surmised that there must be a yet-undefined major blood antigen. They decided to name this antigen RH because it was similar to one found in rhesus monkeys. Later they discovered that human and animal anti-RH antibodies are genetically different but the RH label remains, leading to assume a linkage between human and animal blood that does not exist. All of Landsteiner’s discoveries came about through human studies and could not possibly have been accomplished using animals.


In 1935, Dr. Claude S. Beck pioneered the surgical technique vascular anastomosis to increase the blood supply to the heart muscles when blood became blocked in the coronary arteries. Beck, whose success was based on clinical observations, said although he had conducted thousands of animal experiments they were useless, that his only useful knowledge came from clinical studies.

CARDIAC CATHERIZATION (for diagnostic purposes)

First used by Dr. Forsmann on himself. He put a catheter through his own arm and advanced the tip to his heart, observing it through a fluoroscope.


In 1961, in France, Dr. Kunlin used a portion of a person’s vein to replace obstructed segments. This gave birth to bypass surgery for different parts of the body.

CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS (used to treat high blood pressure)

It was discovered to lower the blood pressure when given to patients to reduce heart pain (angina).



C. Walton Lillehei developed it through learning what happened to patients during surgery when the heart lung machine was used and complications arose. He decided to use the disposable sheet oxygenator so that blood would not become contaminated.

ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS (used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is put into it)

Was developed to stop milk from foaming and adapted to use in open heart surgery.

COARCTATION OF THE AORTA (twisting of the aorta that prevented blood flow)

Clarence Crafford put a clamp on the ruptured aorta and discovered that he could still perform surgery on the aorta without the patient dying. He discovered this by accident on a patient.

MITRAL STENOSIS (defective heart valve)

Dr. Henry S. Souttar, London Hospital, 1925, put his forefinger through the heart’s mitral valve and widened it. In 1949 Dr. Dwight E. Harking decided to use that same technique which is called finger fracture angioplasty.

BLUE BABIES (Fallot’s Tetrology – Four heart defects that lead to blue baby syndrome)

Dr. R. C. Brock of Guy’s Hospital developed a technique of surgery to overcome this problem without any animal experiments (British Medical Journal 6/12/48). Another technique was developed by British surgeons N. R. Barrett and Raymond Daley of St. Thomas Hospital (British Medical Journal 4/23/49).


Kouwenhoven, Jude and Knickerbocker devised this technique through practice on cadavers.


Dr. Paul Zoll used this technique (electric shock) as early as 1956.


Brown and Mac Millan, Toronto, began investigating arrhythmia disorders directly on patients. Converted an old encephalogram to an electrocardiogram to monitor heart rhythm disorders.



The Ebers Papyrus was written in 1550 B.C. and includes an accurate description of the circulatory system depicting the existence of blood vessels through the entire body and the heart functioning as the center of the blood supply.


In 1240 Ibn Al Nafis discovered pulmonary circulation (the circulation between the heart and lungs). He had performed dissections on cadavers from cemeteries. He proved that blood circulates from the right side of the heart to the lungs where it is aerated (filled with air) before reaching the left side of the heart.


Through his animal experiments he deduced that the blood ebbs and flows like the tide. He misled anatomists and physiologists for eleven centuries by his erroneous conclusions from his animal experiments.


He finished Abn Al Nafis’ work (1570-1657). He used his own arm by tying it off and noticing on which side the blood accumulated. He also poured water into a corpse’s heart to determine where it would flow. He discovered, as Abn Al Nafis had thousands of years before him, how the blood circulates --- without doing animal experiments.


Dr. Thomas Lewis, Great Britain --- “The most essential information, the profound effects which digitalis is capable of exerting in auricular fibrillation could not have been won through observation on the frog or normal mammal but only, as it was won, by observation on patients.”


Dogs’ coronary arteries differ from humans. They have smaller connections with one another and the left coronary artery dominates while in the human the right artery dominates. In addition, the conduction system has a different pattern of blood supply. Hence, visectors have difficulty in producing ischemic heart disease in dogs (cutting off the blood supply to the heart). Dogs’ blood coagulates differently from humans. Their reaction to shock is different. After massive blood loss, a dog’s intestines are congested while in the human we see pallor and ischemia (lack of blood supply).


Practice surgery on animals has been illegal in Great Britain since 1876 – yet their surgeons are just as good as ours.


Ether was discovered by Valerius Cordus in 1540 when he mixed alcohol and sulphuric acid. At that time it was called “sweet oil of vitriol”. Medical students used to use ether to get high in “ether frolics”. Dr. Crawford Long, a surgeon, noticed that people with bruises who had taken ether were insensitive to pain. He tried it on a patient during surgery.


“The study of humans is the only sure way to unveil the mysteries of humankind to find cures for human ailments and to prevent suffering. Strict ethical standards, compassion and ‘reverence for life’ must guide every step on the road.”

“Animal models differ from their human counterparts. Conclusions drawn from animal research when applied to human disease are likely to delay progress and mislead and harm the patient.”

“Animal experimentation inevitably leads to human experimentation.”

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