Animal Experimentation and Medical Advancements

Topics: Animal testing, Animal rights, Animal Liberation Front Pages: 7 (2454 words) Published: April 9, 2008
Animal experimentation is a big part of medical progress. Opponents of animal testing point out the amount of animals used and the different types of animals used but if you look at it, it’s all for a good reason. Animal experimenters don’t do this just to do it. It’s for a purpose. There are thousands upon thousands of medical situations that couldn’t have been done without animal experimenting. Animal suffering is pointed out but for the most part animals go without feeling any pain. Animal experimentation has helped advance us so much medically that no matter what extent of suffering you find or what type of alternatives you find, it will never fully disappear.

Animal experimentation is not a recent event. It‘s been around for thousands of years. “The earliest references to animal testing are found in the writings of the Greeks in the third and fourth centuries BC, with Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Erasistratus (304-258 BC) among the first to perform experiments on living animals” (Wikipedia, 14 Oct. 2006 ¶4). Erasistratus was a student at Aristotle’s school in Athens. It was there that he got the name “The Father Of Physiology” due to the work he did on the studies of the circulatory system and the nervous system on animals (Paul and Paul, 2001 p 24). Another person of great influence with the history of animal experimentation is Galen of Pergamum. During his time it was illegal for anyone to dissect a human therefore he had to move to animals for his learning and observations. “He put pigs, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, bears, mice, monkeys, and even an elephant all under his knife; in doing so, he ‘put animal research on the map, not only for his contemporaries but also for the next fifteen centuries.’” (Paul and Paul, 2001 p 25).

There are numerous types of experiments that were performed after animal testing was first discovered. After Galen, there were many other highly intelligent and important people who followed him in his ways of working on animals for medical purposes. One being William Harvey (1578-1657). His “discovery that blood circulates through the body, a discovery that has been called ‘the greatest physiological advance of the seventeenth century, and perhaps of all time,’ was based almost exclusively on animal experiments” (Paul and Paul, 2001 p 25). An English clergyman named Stephen Hales “used only a mare to develop techniques for measuring blood pressure and the capacity of the heart. He did this by inserting a long glass tube into one of the horse’s arteries and, with each heartbeat, measuring the rise and fall of the blood in the tube” (Paul and Paul, 2001 p 25-6).

By performing experiments on animals during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were many important medical benefits formed. In 1798 William Jenner worked with two deadly diseases, cowpox and horsepox. In doing this he was able to develop the smallpox vaccination which is incredibly important to human health today. “Louis Pasteur turned his attention to the diseases of humans and the higher animals, and to the elaboration of preventative vaccines. Together with his brilliant students Èmilie Roux, Charles Chamberland, and Louis Thuillier, he launched a series of experiments that resulted first in a vaccine for chicken cholera  an economically damaging disease” (Paul and Paul, 2001 p 26-7). From there he was also able to make a vaccination for anthrax which was tested on sheep, goats, and cows. Another vaccination formed by Pasteur which was tested on animals was the rabies vaccination, another extremely important benefit to humans.

Later on throughout the years we have had humans experience some painful, depressing, and fatal medical situations which have in most cases been helped to become less extreme with the help of animal testing. Some of the more important medical areas being helped by using animals is cancer, AIDS, and psychological issues. In some cases animal experimentation is the only logical way to find cures...

References: Baumans V. 2004. Use of animals in experimental research: an ethical dilemma? Gene
Festing S. 2005. The animal research debate. The Political Quarterly. 76.4: 568. http:// (15 Oct (14 Oct. 2006)
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