Use of Animals in Scientific Research | A Complete Guide

Animal testing is routinely used in pharma industries, scientific research labs for testing of drugs, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, etc.

They are used as per provisions of animal laws after obtaining proper approvals.

However, there is a high demand to stop the use of animals for experimentation by organizations that are sympathetic to animals.

Animals are used for following scientific works like

1. Study of anatomy and physiology

2. Evaluate drug toxicity

3. To a certain suitable dose

4. For the production of biologicals.

5. Study behavior of substances in the body

Use of Animals in Scientific Research-guinea pig

Types of animals used in research

1. Invertebrates like fruit fly (Drosophila), earthworms, snails, cockroaches

2. Birds like the hen, pigeons, etc.

3. Rodents (Mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs)

4. Large animals like dogs, monkeys, pigs, cats, etc.

The animals in experiments could experience severe pain and suffering. Hence, wild animals are avoided, and those grown in the labs are used.

The requirement to be followed in the process of animals experiments include

1. Well designed and clean animal house.

2. Suitable temperature, ventilation, humidity.

3. Unlimited access to food and water.

4. A Vet for a regular checkup of animal health.

5. Technical personnel for maintenance of the animal house.

The use of living organisms inflicts pain and suffering during experimentation hence, certain ethics and laws have to be followed by the experimenter as per rules of the country.

Every country has rules for animal and human safety. Based on it rules are designed in regards to treating the organism or human volunteer during, before and also after experimentation.

Animal experimentation: The rules of ethical bodies in every country aim to minimize the pain, suffering and also the extent of experimentation on animals.

The common rules /ethics in animal experimentation are

Where ever possible try to avoid animal experimentation.

If it is mandatory to use the animals, try to use them without inflicting severe pain during and also after experimentation.

Try to treat animals properly so as to live healthily after experimentation.

Use small animals in the place of big animals. This has many advantages like the requirement of low space for animals upkeep,. Low fodder costs and also low dose requirement of substance in the experimentation. This is especially advantageous when the experimental sample is very expensive and/ or available in low quantity.

Use of anesthetics and pain-killer to minimize pain during and after experimentation if the application doesn’t interfere with experimental results.

If the experimentation is such that the animal can’t live a normal life, it has to be sacrificed without pain.

Just for sake of demonstration one should not use animals but use some demo material like pictures, videos, etc.

Ex; Routinely rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, frogs, birds, etc are some of the animals used in experimentation.

Experimentation on insects/invertebrates

The use of insects and other invertebrates doesn’t require any ethical permission. But their treatment should be similar to animals before, during experimentation.

Ex. of organisms used are Drosophila, cockroach, earthworm, mollusks, etc.

Experimentation on human

The experimentation on humans requires human ethical committee permission. Further, there should be written consent of the volunteer.

The experimentation should be performed in presence of a physician. Before and after experimentation, the volunteer has to be diagnosed with disease or disorder.

The volunteers should be treated properly during experimentation. Any small untoward effects on the volunteer, the experiment be stopped and given medical help.

Why are animals used for testing

They are mostly used to safeguard humans from direct exposure of substances used by immediate internal consumption or external applications on the skin. The use of animals in experimentation helps to

Study anatomy and physiology

Here animals like frogs, rabbits, and even rats are taken for studying physiological systems like circulation, digestion, excretion, etc.

Besides lower animals like earthworms, mollusks, cockroaches are used to study their internal organization and function.

Evaluate toxicity

Animals are used for testing the harmful or poisonous effects of drugs, food supplements, etc. if any. If the substances fail to pass their test in animals due to severe adverse effects or toxicity, then they are not tried for human use.

Fixing the dose or quantity

Every drug, food nutrient, vitamins, supplements we take are recommended at fixed quantities or doses. These doses are in the safe range for consumption and also produce the desired effect on the body.  Thus tests on animals help in fixing the correct dose or quantity of drugs or supplements to be in a safe and effective range.

To study the drug action

Animals have body function and physiology similar to humans and hence, they act to mimic human response and behavior to substances. The mechanism of muscle contraction, heartbeat, circulation is easily understood by a study on animals. Further how a drug acts in the body like by either rise in heartbeat, circulation or respiration rate can be understood by scientific testing on animals.

To know the time spent in the body

Animals studies of any substance helps in understanding the time spent by the substance in the body before its elimination by excretion. The more the time spent, the more the chances of poisoning, accumulation, adverse effects and the duration of its effects on the body. By conducting blood and urine tests on animals after administration of the test substance, it is possible to know the extent of time spent by the substance in the body.

In the production of biochemical products

Animals are also used to produce some substances which can be helpful to humans Ex. Vaccinesmonoclonal antibodies, antigens, etc. They serve as reservoirs to produce these substances in their bodies. Hence animal tests are done to see the suitability of an animal for the production of any substance by modulation of its physiology or immunity etc. Ex: antibody production in rabbits

In drug research

In drug research animals are especially used to see how drugs produce their action in the body, i.e., by what mechanism. They also help in understanding how the drug is absorbed, the best route to administer the drug, how drugs are detoxified in the body and their main route of excretion.

Further, they are used to see the efficacy of the drug in a disease. Animals are induced with a disease similar to humans, and then drug s are administered to see if they are effective in the disease treatment.

Animals like fruits fly can be used without approvals from animal ethical committees as they are not governed by animal laws in most countries. But remaining vertebrate animals are experimented upon only after having proper approvals.

The animals collected for experimentation should be housed in well designed and maintained rooms. They have been given sufficient water and food throughout their stay.

So animals are used in research mostly as pre-trial before trying on humans. Even a dog named Laika was trained and sent to a space trip to see if the animal could survive there. Once the impact of space on the dog was studied, then humans went to space trips.

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