Wednesday, (23/08) Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities (CBMH FK-KMK UGM) held Raboan Discussion Forum. The routine webinar was held in collaboration with International Medical University Malaysia. The speaker was Dr. Renu Agarwal and the moderator was Erlin Erlina, PhD. The raised topic is Translational Value of Animal Models in Research: Ethical Viewpoint.
Understanding how the human body functions, identifying diseases that affect humans, and developing effective treatment options are pivotal endeavors in medical and scientific research. To advance these goals, animal testing has played a significant role in various fields, including research and development (R&D), fundamental research, quality control (QC), production, and toxicity testing. Commonly used animals for these purposes include mice, rats, ectotherms, rabbits, and birds.
One of the most poignant stories related to animal testing is that of Laika, the first dog in space. Laika was sent into orbit aboard the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 to study the prolonged effects of weightlessness on a living being. Unfortunately, her mission ended tragically as she succumbed to stress and overheating. This story sparking a debate on the ethical considerations surrounding animal testing.
This debate can be distilled into two primary viewpoints: those in favor of animal testing (pro-animal testing) and those against it (kontra animal testing).
Proponents of Animal Testing (Pro):
– Argue that human life has greater intrinsic value than animal life and that medical research saves countless human lives.
– Emphasize that legislation is in place to protect lab animals from cruelty or mistreatment.
– Point out that many animals are euthanized before experiencing significant suffering, making their sacrifice more humane.
– Highlight the irony that millions of animals are killed every year for food, questioning whether their deaths for medical research are a more worthy cause.
Opponents of Animal Testing (Kontra):
– Contend that animals have as much right to live as humans and that their lives should not be sacrificed for research purposes.
– Argue that strict controls have not always prevented some animals from being abused, even if such instances are rare.
– Assert that death for research is unnecessary, and alternative methods should be explored to replace animal testing.
– Express concerns about the suffering experienced by animals while they are confined and question our ability to accurately gauge when they do or don’t feel pain.
Despite the ethical divide, international guidelines acknowledge the role of animal testing in advancing medical knowledge and ensuring the safety and efficacy of medicines, vaccines, and surgical techniques. These guidelines stipulate that such testing must involve two different species of mammals. While contentious, it is an unavoidable reality in the pursuit of scientific progress.
The guiding principles underscore the need to regulate animal testing rather than abolishing it and emphasize the humane treatment of animals involved in experiments.
For scientific integrity, researchers must address internal and external validity in animal testing. Key questions include considering the relevance of the chosen animal species, designing experiments to eliminate bias, and outlining plans for data collection and analysis.
In conclusion, the debate over animal testing is complex and multifaceted, touching on ethical, scientific, and regulatory considerations. Striking a balance between advancing medical knowledge and respecting the welfare of animals remains a challenging and ongoing endeavor in the field of research.
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