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Science is quickly progressing, resulting in more experiments and controversial topics. In recent years, common people and scientists are becoming more aware of the inhuman experiments conducted on animal, resulting in the discovery of alternative methods that do not include animal testing. The following essay discusses 3 alternatives to animal testing and specifically answers why they should replace animal testing and how these methods are more beneficial to the world of science. By researching multiple sources and comparing their findings, I assess the benefits of each alternative and determine which one is the best solution based on research and personal opinions. In conclusion, this study researches the benefits of computer/virtual experiments, in vitro testing, and microdosing when compared to testing conducted on animals. My findings determine in vitro cell cultures as the most effective method to test products, but all the alternatives pave the way to a non-animal testing world.
For any animal lover, animal testing is a sensitive topic. Numerous companies test their products on animals to determine the toxicity, effectiveness, possible skin irritation, etc. Experiments conducted on these creatures are long and painful, and more often than not, they result in the death of the subject. By finding alternatives to this crude way of testing, both humans and animals can benefit. Animal-testing can often be inaccurate, the different genetic makeup between animals and humans cause animals to have different reactions than what a human being would have. For example, experiments conducted on rats, hamsters, and numerous other animals showed no connection between glass fibers and cancer. It wasn’t until human studies were conducted that these fibers were labeled as carcinogenic. Therefore, this capstone project was developed to present a solution to animal-testing that would aid the world of science and save innocent lives.
The purpose of this essay is to discover new ways to test products without harming animals. Through my research I have discovered that there are many alternatives to animal testing, but a specific three were continuously found on every website. Each website I looked at gave me further information on the same topic, allowing me to gather more facts that completed my argument. In addition to the information provided, each website was dedicated to teaching the readers other ways to experiment without harming animals. One solution I repeatedly discovered was in vitro testing. In vitro is using glass objects, such as test tubes, to study human cells or tissues. Scientists obtain these human materials and continue to grow them in a laboratory, creating cell cultures. Cell cultures can be made into 2D or 3D models and are used to study the effects of drugs, diseases, and toxic substances. Many people may see this method as controversial, since the tissues and cells must come from human beings. However, post-mortem tissue and tissue and cells from surgeries or biopsies can be used, and I think that is a great way of using resources that aren’t necessarily needed for life anymore. This method has already been a crucial component to developments in drug resistance and tumor models. This is important to notice because it proves that non-animal testing methods are already beneficial to the scientific world. In vitro testing is primarily used to see the effects of diseases and drugs on specific parts of the body and there is evidence that it provides more rapid and precise results than animal testing does. I furthered my research to see what in vitro test was conducted and discovered to be more efficient than animal-testing and I found my answer in Dr. Bjӧrn Ekwall. He was a Swedish cell toxicologist who discovered a new way to test toxicity. The “Lethal Dose 50” (LD50) forces animals to swallow toxic/lethal substances, resulting in 50% of subjects dying. Dr. Ekwall challenged this form of testing by organizing the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity Programme (MEIC). This project used the vitro method to test toxicity of products using human tissues and cells, and tested 50 chemicals in over 100 laboratories worldwide. The MEIC had an 85% accuracy rating compared to the 61-65% of the LD50. I was surprised when I discovered this information because it shows that animal testing is actually not the best method in researching products that could possibly affect humans.
While cell cultures are a part of the in vitro method, there is a in silico method that involves all computer generated data and experiments. Computer models can be used to test the effects of toxins on the human body overtime and without harming a living subject. The NOTOX project in Europe utilizes these computer models and hopes to show the world that there is no need for animal testing. NOTOX scientists first make use of cell cultures and analyze the effect of substances on liver cells. They then translate their observations into a computer algorithm, whose goal is to mimic the process that would take place in human tissue. Technology is continuing to evolve and the fact that we can use computer models to test the prolonged effect of toxins is a huge step towards the end of animal testing. The third solution found in my research is microdosing. This form of testing is also controversial but much more so than cell cultures. Microdosing administrates a small dose of a drug to a human to test the effects on a cellular level but without affecting the entire body. The patient’s brain is monitored with an fMRI and other brain imagers to watch the effect of the toxin. This method can determine which drugs have an effect on humans and which don’t, which means it can limit the amount of drugs passed onto animals. The controversy surrounding this method is different than that surrounding the vitro method because microdosing involves a living breathing human being injected with a harmful substance. In vitro testing, it utilizes unwanted or unneeded tissue but microdosing requires human volunteers to be useful.
There are numerous ways to stop animal testing yet still perform experiments that get you correct results. The three methods I gathered researched were not the only alternatives I saw, but were the best three in my opinion, with in vitro testing is the most efficient alternative out of them all. Animals and humans are not genetically the same, meaning animals may have different reactions than us. By using real human tissue and cells we can accurately determine how the drug or cure will affect a human being. In comparison to this method, computer models are less reliable when it comes to accuracy. Technology is sensitive and any little mistake can have a big impact, including a malfunction that could erase the data. Microdosing could potentially be dangerous if the amount injected was too great and could have lasting consequences. In vitro experiments deal with real human tissue and cells without the possibility of harming a living human or animal. These experiments are proven to be more accurate that animal ones, an example being the EpiDerm skin testing. EpiDerm used cultivated skin cells to test skin irritation for humans and was found to be more accurate than skin irritation on rabbits, which misclassified 10 out of 25 test chemicals. Cell cultures and in vitro testing should replace experiments done on animals everywhere. People should be aware that they can donate their tissues and cells after they die or when they have surgery so they can make the conscious decision to help save the animals and help improve science. Scientists can replicate donated cells and tissues in a laboratory and can make ‘organs on chips’, which are miniature organs and organ systems that can be tested on. By implementing this method worldwide so many animals will be saved and so many resources can be put to use. I party agree with the controversy surrounding this method, but I also think that its proficiency and accuracy cannot be ignored. No living organism will be harmed during this study and the replicated cells and tissues allows for hundreds of chemicals to be tested on at the same time. Animal testing can take months of research and thousands of dollars, but cell culture testing can range from 3 minutes to 4 hours and at half the price. Not only does the in vitro method improve scientific research, but it helps save innocent animals, allows humans to participate without harmful consequences, and requires less money. Those reasons alone should be proof enough of why this method is superior over animal testing.
Although animal-testing is stopping more and more each year, it is still an ongoing form of research in many countries and companies. This project was conducted to gather information on how to end animal-testing while still conducting experiments that are beneficial to humans and science. There are numerous other methods that scientists use instead of animal testing, but the three discussed in this essay are arguably the most popular. In vitro cell cultures and other experiments done in glass as well as computer models and microdosing have been improving research for years. These methods have already been proven to work just as well if not better than animal testing, which is why there is no longer a need to conduct harmful experiments on these innocent creatures. In vitro methods have a bright future ahead, scientists are already working to improve cell cultures and the growth of tissues in laboratories. Perhaps there will be a great improvement one day that will no longer require the extraction of cells or tissues from humans but instead these resources can be grown from scratch right in the laboratory. Science and discovery will forever be moving forward and improving, paving the way for cures and vaccines that will improve the health of the population. There is no need to kill innocent creatures for this knowledge, there is always another choice and another method to be enhanced that can continue to be the foundation of science.
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