The issue of whether or not animal experimentation should be used for research in medicine and science has been debated for years. After conducting research on both sides of the issue, I have found that we should not replace animal testing with alternative methods at the present time. The proposal to replace animal testing in medical science is somewhat unrealistic and would prove to be disadvantageous. There are four substantial reasons for this: animal research currently plays (and has long played) a vital role in advancing medical science, alternatives cannot sufficiently replace animal testing, current laws prevent the total elimination of animal testing, and there is a lack of substantial evidence that says replacing animal tests would be beneficial.
Animal tests play a huge role in advancing medical science. Physicians and researchers agree that animal systems provide priceless and irreplaceable insights into human systems. The essential need for animal research is recognized and supported by medical societies and health agencies around the world. Animal research has played a fundamental part in many of the major medical advances in human health in the last century, not to mention the medical treatments developed that help the animals themselves. "From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to organ transplantation, from vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present day protocol for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained through animal research" ("Proud Achievements" 2). Animals are the best models available right now because they are biologically similar to humans, they are susceptible to many of the same health problems, and they have short life-cycles so they can easily be studied throughout their entire life-span. Scientists can also easily control the environment around the animal (diet, temperature, exercise etc.), which would be difficult to do with people. Another reason that is important to test on animals is because it would be much more controversial to deliberately expose humans to health risks in order to observe the course of a disease.
There are countless examples of medical advancements that might not have been possible without animal testing. Heart disease has been studied in dogs, rats, rabbits, cats, sheep, and pigs. These studies have contributed to our most basic understanding of how to manage heart disease. Electrocardiography, cardiac catheters, angiograms, and coronary blood flow measurement, surgical techniques such as cardiac bypass, angioplasty, and heart transplants were developed through research using dogs. Our understanding of the retrovirus that causes HIV/AIDS comes in part from studies of similar viruses in chickens, cats, and monkeys ("Why do Scientists" 1). Promising drugs and potential vaccines are tested first in mice and monkeys before being used in clinical trials. Animal testing has played a role in the research and progression of cancer treatments, immunizations for polio, smallpox, diphtheria, rubella and hepatitis; leukemia treatments, joint replacement, organ transplants, asthma treatment, whooping cough medications, and sickle cell disease medications. In fact, animal research has been successful since 1726, earning 15 Nobel Prizes as of 2001. In addition to medical advancements benefiting humans, animal testing has allowed scientists to help the animals themselves: life saving and life-extending treatments for cats, dogs, farm animals, wildlife and endangered species; vaccines for rabies, parvo virus, infectious hepatitis, anthrax, tetanus and feline leukemia; pacemakers, artificial joints, and animal organ transplants are just a few of the breakthroughs made in veterinary medicine thanks to animal research ("Proud Achievements" 5).
There is no complete replacement for the living systems of animals to...