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In this article, I expose the reasons on why animal research is necessary to do science and how our governments have designed laws to ensure that only researchers with the right qualifications are in charge of animal handling.

Animal testing and ethical issues

An undercover investigation performed by an investigator from the British Unit Against Vivisection, or BUAV, gave as a result a video portraying tests performed in puppies and kittens, in an animal facility of a very important laboratory, Merck Sharp and Dohme. In the video, puppies and kittens are used for experimentation and are separated from their mothers at a very early age. They also mention that the moms are sacrificed, after being used just as breeding machines. This video was widely spread, and as expected, it caused feelings of distress and waves of outrageousness in almost every individual that watched it.

Animal testing and cruelty go together 

I say almost every individual because I am tempted to think that there were a few people that did not react this way. But, who wouldn’t? Animal testing is a very delicate issue and it is far from changing anytime soon. And this is completely understandable, because in the end, animals are being bred and used for tests that involve keeping them in confined spaces and exposing them to substances or studies that could or could not cause harm.

Nonetheless, I also think that this kind of reactions from organizations that protect animal rights and from people that read the news and see this type of reports is based on biased information.

Even journalists writing about animal research and covering stories like the one presented by the BUAV tend to promote wrong concepts as far as animal research goes, increasing misinformation around this topic. 

Animal research is necessary

When developing treatments and cures for both, animal and human diseases, it is imperative first to study the disease, how it develops and causes damage to certain tissue or organ, in order to identify possible therapeutic targets for this illness. Diseases have to be studied even before their symptomatology is detectable, which most of the times is not possible, because patients that are diagnosed with a certain illness are usually in the middle or the final stages of the disease.

Animal models allow the study of the natural history of diseases in a living being, giving scientists the opportunity to detect the causes of diseases and how they behave.

Once researchers have detected a “weak ankle” to the disease, a drug or treatment can be developed. Drugs have to be tested in order to secure their safety and effectiveness. They can be first tested in cellular models, but these models are restrictive in terms of possible interactions of the drug with other organs, specially the liver and kidneys. Because of this, research needs to be escalated into an animal model before it can be tested in humans. It is impossible to test a drug in humans before securing its safety in an animal model, as harsh as it sounds.

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