Some may argue that animal research should be stopped because of the pain inflicted on the animals. But most research projects involving animals either do not involve more than momentary pain, such as an injection, or, if pain is unavoidable researchers and staff alleviate it with analgesic or anesthetic drugs. Researchers understand that pain causes stress for the animal, and not only can this stress seriously affect the results of the study, but those working with research animals don’t wish to see an animal suffer needlessly.
Other people argue that medical scientists already know enough; we need to use what we already know. But do we know enough about diseases such as cancer, heart disease, AIDS, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? If enough is known about these diseases, why are thousands of people dying from them each year? There is still much to be learned about the role of various individual proteins on the body as a whole.
Some people argue that there are already viable alternatives to using animals in research such as computer modeling, cell cultures and emerging technologies. It’s important to note here that before any researcher is given permission to use animals in an experiment, they must first justify why the use of animals over any other model is required. Computer modeling is a powerful tool used in research, but it has its limitations. Primarily that it can only base its results on programmed information and at this time computers cannot mimic the complexity of a living organism in complete detail.
Using cell cultures is also a powerful tool in the researcher’s arsenal, but again this has limitations. Although cell cultures can provide accurate information pertaining to how specific cells will react, they cannot mimic how the whole body will react. In order to keep cell lines growing outside the body, in vitro, the cells must be kept in a nutrient rich serum which is currently derived from animal blood serum. So even the process of using cell cultures requires animals to maintain the cell colonies.