GHP Q2 2022

37 GHP Q2 2022 Animal testing has been around for millennia. With vivisection as a response to curiosity in the pursuit of scientific developments, animals have been relied on for centuries. It comes as no surprise that they have been viewed by many people as an easily accessible option to perform medical testing for scientific research and solutions to health problems within humans. Here we explore the history of animal testing in relation to the healthcare industry, how it has helped, and how we are ultimately moving further away from it. The Healthcare Industry is Moving Away from Animal Testing he history of animal testing goes back to the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, with individuals such as Aristotle and Erasistratus documenting some of the first experiments on animals. Then, throughout 2nd century Rome, there are records of the dissection of pigs and goats for medicinal and scientific developments. For example, Galen is well-known as the father of vivisection and practiced throughout his life in the 2nd century Roman empire. Galen used animals to conduct experiments that allowed us to understand a variety of effects on the biological system via the use of controlled variables and end results. The earliest known performed trepanation was performed on a cow by a Neolithic surgeon around 3400-3000 BCE. The reason for this is largely unknown yet this could have been the beginning of what we now know as animal testing. However, in the last century, animal testing has exploded, with animals such as monkeys, horses, rabbits, dogs, birds, and rodents being used for experiments. Animals have been the key to unlocking revolutionary and pioneering scientific developments – for the sake of humankind. The problem with this is the treatment of animals who are being perceived as lesser than humans and therefore believed to be an easy option for test subjects. Despite the fact that some are grateful for the scientific advancements, it is clear that the justification for these experiments grow in controversial waters. It can be seen as unjust and, simply, unethical. Although these practices have often been invaluable in the past we are now edging towards the abandonment of these inefficient and outdated methods. One of the key problems with animal testing is the speciesism aspect – relating to the ethics surrounding the practice. There are plenty of companies and charities (such as PETA) as well as individuals who are trying to change the way industries are using animals to develop ideas and products. This is mainly down to the beauty and the healthcare industry; it can be said that it is unnecessary to test on animals for the sake of makeup and other types of beauty products. Whereas people who believe in the benefits of animal testing may argue that it is crucial for animals to be used for scientific advancement. A lot of information can be found online surrounding the number of animals being used for testing each year. According to PETA, over 100 million animals are killed in the U.S. alone. This is for the sake of biology lessons, medical training, and curiosity-driven experimentation alongside chemical, food, drug, and cosmetic testing. Aside from the ethical issues, another issue with animal testing is the cost of actually sourcing and using animals for scientific research, both financially and with regards to the cost of time spent conducting experiments. Often tests can take months or even years to conduct and then analyse the data gathered. The extremely high cost of what could be determined as inefficient experiments is not something that the healthcare industry can stand for much longer. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration that some tests can take years to conduct, leading to vast resource expenditure for potentially insubstantial results or inaccurate results. Yet, there are alternatives to animal experiments. These techniques are often cheaper, faster, and much more ethical. These options involve: • Cell Culture Cell Culture is where cells are grown under controlled conditions that are isolated from their natural environment. These experiments are conducted on plant cells that have been extracted and disaggregated by enzymatic or mechanical means before cultivation, or they may be gained from a preestablished cell line/strain. This is a well-known successful in vivo alternative to the use of animals. • Computer Simulation Computer Simulation is the process of mathematical modelling, performed on a digital platform which is intended to predict behaviour and outcomes. Computer modelling techniques are extremely fast and much more cost effective for scientists around the world. These simulations of behaviour – alongside the predicted responses to systems and prototypes – mean that scientists can understand how disease manifests and develops. • Human Testing Finally, human-based testing has become more widely accepted – and even encouraged – in order to create solutions that are closer to our own genetic makeup. This form of testing is something that is carried out with the consent of the human being experimented on, and they are usually given chemicals that are to improve their health rather than the way animals are given chemicals that cause health problems in the first place, so that we can attempt to cure them of the conditions induced. The replacements for animal testing have huge benefits for all parties involved and for many reasons. It is now clear to see how much credit we owe to animals within the scientific realm. Now that we are at a point where we can move away from animal testing, we can truly appreciate how far we have come in our abilities as a species. T by Sofi Bajor