Animal Experimentation (vivisection): did it ever save us?
Written by Douglas Leith
Created Wednesday, 15 February 2012
A fundamental question on the subject of vivisection is 'Do humans benefit from animal experiments?'' The vast majority of people have been led to belive that the answer is a definite "yes". But how many of them have actually looked into this? And if they did how many would get through the the misleading information to find the truth. Before we consider a utilitarian argument based on a premise which says "Humans benefit from animal experiments, we must weigh up the benefit to humans agaist the suffering of animals"and all of the tangents this argument pursues to produce many PhD's we must ask if it is actually true.
To answer this question I have looked at the claims made by Oxford University re vivisections historical benefit to humans, chosen due to its status and as its claims are typical pro vivisection claims. I respond to claims made to the end of the first paragraph here and will respond to others later. I can provide you with a full response if you contact me by email. I have compiled the quotes and info to most of the response to these claims from www.safermedicines.org www.vivisectioninformation.com www.speakcampaigns.org www.health.org.nz www.mrmcmed.org
University of Oxford
Research using animals: an overview
How have humans benefited from research using animals?
As the Department of Health states, research on animals has contributed to almost every medical advance of the last century.
Without animal research, medicine as we know it today wouldn't exist. It has enabled us to find treatments for cancer, antibiotics for infections (which were developed in Oxford laboratories), vaccines to prevent some of the most deadly and debilitating viruses, and surgery for injuries, illnesses and deformities.
Life expectancy in this country has increased, on average, by almost three months for every year of the past century. Within the living memory of many people diseases such as polio, turberculosis, leukaemia and diphtheria killed or crippled thousands every year. But now, doctors are able to prevent or treat many more diseases or carry out life-saving operations - all thanks to research which at some stage involved animals.
Each year, millions of people in the UK benefit from treatments that have been developed and tested on animals. Animals have been used for the development of blood transfusions, insulin for diabetes, anaesthetics, anticoagulants, antibiotics, heart and lung machines for open heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, transplantation, high blood pressure medication, replacement heart valves, chemotherapy for leukemia and life support systems for premature babies. More than 50 million prescriptions are written annually for antibiotics.
Response to each claim
Claim: As the Department of Health states, research on animals has contributed to almost every medical advance of the last century.
Without animal research, medicine as we know it today wouldn't exist. It has enabled us to find treatments for cancer
Reply: In fact depite the use of about a billion animals in cancer research in the last century cancer continues to increase…
“ The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, LA Times, May 6.1998
"Animals in Cancer Research: A Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud", is the title of an article written by Dr Irwin D. Bross former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest private cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: reproduced in Fundamental and Applied Toxicology, November 6 1982. It begins:
"The use of animals in cancer research has been attacked as unnecessary cruelty to animals, and defended as absolutely essential for research progress that will prevent or cure human cancer. From a scientific standpoint, what is pertinent is that what are called 'animal model systems' in cancer research have been a total failure."
"The moral is that animal model systems not only kill animals they also kill humans. There is no good factual evidence to show that the use of animals in cancer research has led to the prevention or cure of a single human cancer."
1981 Congressional Testimony by Dr. Irwin Bross, former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest private cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: "The uselessness of most of the animal model studies is less well known...Indeed, while conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance either in the prevention or treatment of human cancer."
"Giving cancer to laboratory animals has not and will not help us to understand the disease or to treat those persons suffering from it."
- Dr. A. Sabin, 1986, developer of the oral polio vaccine.
"Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud, and that the major cancer research organisations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them."
- Linus Pauling, PhD, 1986, two time Nobel Prize Winner.
It’s been well known for maybe two decades that many of these preclinical human cancer models have very little predictive power in terms of how actual human beings – actual human tumours inside patients – will respond…Preclinical models of human cancer, in large part, stink…Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by drug companies using these [animal] models…Prof. Robert Weinberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fortune, 9th March.2004
[mouse models are] woefully inadequate…if you look at the millions and millions and millions of mice that have been cured, and you compare that to the relative success, or lack thereof, that we've achieved in the treatment of metastatic disease clinically, you realize that there just has to be something wrong with those models. Homer Pearce, research fellow at Eli Lilly. Fortune, 9th March.2004
Mouse models that use transplants of human cancer have not had a great track record of predicting human responses to treatment in the clinic. It’s been estimated that cancer drugs that enter clinical testing have a 95 percent rate of failing to make it to market, in comparison to the 89 percent failure rate for all therapies . . . Indeed, “we had loads of models that were not predictive, that were [in fact] seriously misleading,” says NCI’s Marks, also head of the Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium. The Scientist, April 1, 2010
We have learned well how to treat cancer in mice and rats but we still can’t cure people. Professor Colin Garner, quoted in Accelerator MS Is a Powerful New Tool, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Vol. 27, No. 15.
We do trials in people because animal models do not predict what will happen in humans. Dr Sally Burtles, Cancer Research UK, Report of the Expert Scientific Group on phase one clinical trials, following the TGN1412 clinical trial disaster.
You really have to design the medicine for the species of interest…You'll find it very rare to find a medicine that will work in both… Patrick M. O'Connor, head of oncology research for Pfizer, quoted in The New York Times, 24 November.
My own medical perspective is that animal cancer research should be regarded as the scientific equivalent of gossip – with about the same chance of turning out to be true, i.e. truly effective in humans. Some gossip turns out to be true, but most of it does not…and gossip can cause great anguish for those affected, in this case millions of desperate cancer patients worldwide. G. Timothy Johnson MD, Boston Globe, May 22.1998
God knows we’ve cured mice of all sorts of tumours. But that isn’t medical research. Thomas E Wagner, senior scientist at Ohio University’s Edison Biotechnology Institute, the Columbus Dispatch, March 20.1998
'Lab mice...have responded quite well to an experimental Alzheimer's vaccine...Lab rats with paralyzing spinal-cord injuries have walked again...And we've cured cancer in enough rodents to fill several New York City subway systems. For people, however, there is no cure for spinal-cord injury, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, osteoporosis, brain and other cancers...the list goes on....”
(Sharon Begley, 'Research lags due to few physician-scientists', Wall Street Journal, 25 April 2003).
"despite 25 years of intensive research and positive results in animal models, not a single anti-tumour drug emerged from this work."
And animals cannot be used to predict human carcinogens:
Given substances are not necessarily carcinogenic to all species. Studies show that 46% of chemicals found to be carcinogenic in rats were not carcinogenic in mice.  · DiCarlo DrugMet Rev,15; p409-131984.
If species as closely related as mice to rats do not even contract cancer similarly, it's not surprising that 19 out of 20 compounds that are safe for humans caused cancer in animals.  · Mutagenesis1987;2:73-78
Dr. Bruce Ames, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Berkeley has to report:
"Of 392 chemicals in our database tested in both rats and mice, 226 were carcinogens in at least one test, but 96 of these were positive in the mouse and negative in the rat or vice versa."
Dr. Ames continues: "Conversely, important human carcinogens may not be detected in standard tests in rodents; this was true for a long time for both tobacco smoke and alcohol, the two largest identified causes of neoplastic death in the United States."(4) Bruce N. Ames, Renae Magaw, Lois Swirsky Gold, "Ranking Possible Carcinogenic Hazards," Science 236 (1987), p. 275.
Claim: antibiotics for infections (which were developed in Oxford laboratories)
Reply: Not according to the 3 Nobel prizes for penicillin…
"How fortunate we didn’t have these animal tests in the 1940’s, for penicillin would probably never been granted a license, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realized."  Sir Alexander Fleming
7) Parke DV: Clinical Pharmacokinetics in Drug Safety Evaluation. ATLA 1994, 22:207-209.
"Mice were used in the initial toxicity tests [by Florey and Chain] because of their small size, but what a lucky chance it was, for in this respect man is like the mouse and not the guinea-pig. If we had used guinea-pigs exclusively we should have said that penicillin was toxic, and we probably should not have proceeded to try and overcome the difficulties of producing the substance for trial in man."  Howard Florey
8) Florey H: The advance of chemotherapy by animal experiment. Conquest 1953, 41:12.
“No animal experiment with a medicament, even if it is carried out on several animal species including primates under all conceivable conditions, can give any guarantee that the medicament tested in this way will behave in the same way in humans; because in many respects the human is not the same as the animal”. Nobel Prize winner Sir Ernst Boris Chain, under oath at a hearing investigating the Thalidomide tragedy. Tony Page, Vivisection Unveiled, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1997, p. 103.
After this good luck a 29 year delay occurred due to misleading information from rabbits…
From Americans for Medical Advancement http://www.afma-curedisease.org/pdf/penicillin.pdf
“His statement was reinforced by Koppanyi and Avery .
Fleming re-discovered penicillin and proceeded to test it in vitro and in vivo on rabbits and mice (he mentions the rabbits in his original paper). The in vitro results showed promise, as did topical application on rabbits. But when given systemically, the rabbits metabolized it too rapidly and led Fleming to believe it would be ineffective for humans when administered systemically that is by mouth or intravenously. Therefore he put the life saving antibiotic on the shelf and essentially forgot about it. He did occasionally use it on topical infections but never even tried it on humans with systemic infections.
Some have criticized Flemming for not trying penicillin systemically on humans. His reluctance was based on the rabbit study. Weisse:
… after injection into an ear vein of a rabbit and with blood samples taken periodically thereafter for testing, it was found that penicillin was rapidly removed from the bloodstream. Samples taken at 30 minutes were found almost completely devoid of activity. Of what use might be an antibacterial agent that took several hours to act but was removed from the body within 30 minutes and inhibited by the blood with which it would obviously be mixing? 
Flemming considered penicillin a potential chemotherapeutic agent, but his early in-vivo investigations were discouraging. In rabbits, serum levels of penicillin dropped rapidly after parenteral administration, too fast to allow the several hours of contact with bacteria required for an effect in vitro. 
... Fleming eventually tried penicillin on a human because of necessity (the reason many such advances are initially applied to humans). Fleming gave it to a friend who was dying in the hospital. Weisse continues:
In August 1942, a close personal friend of Fleming had contracted streptococcal meningitis. When conventional therapy failed and death seemed imminent, Fleming turned to Florey for help. The latter personally delivered his remaining supply of penicillin to Flemming and instructed him in the initial use of it. A dramatic cure was obtained, even the more so since penicillin was administered into the spinal canal for the first time to enhance its effectiveness.
Publicity surrounding Fleming’s friend led to funding to develop the drug and Fleming went down in history as the person responsible for penicillin .
Florey and Chain’s use of mice so they could administer penicillin to humans was for naught as Flemming gave the drug to his friend out of necessity, not based on the tests in mice.
Florey, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for penicillin, administered penicillin to a cat at the same time Fleming was giving it to his sick friend. Florey’s cat died . “
If this cat had died before penicillin was given to Flemmings sick friend then the most important human medicine, which has saved many millions of lives, would probably have been lost forever. It is impossible to know how many other beneficial medicines for humans have been lost due to misleading animal results.
6) Steffee CH: Alexander Fleming and penicillin. The chance of a lifetime? N C Med J 1992, 53:308-310.
9) Koppanyi T, Avery MA: Species differences and the clinical trial of new drugs: a review. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1966, 7:250-270.
10) Weisse AB: The long pause. The discovery and rediscovery of penicillin. Hosp Pract (Off Ed) 1991, 26:93-96, 101-104, 107 passim.
20)Allison VD: Personal recollections of Sir Almroth Wright and Sir Alexander Fleming. Ulster Med J 1974, 43:89-98.
"One of the new antibiotic drugs, Chloramphenicol, has been recorded as a cause of fatal aplastic anaemia in human beings. But extensive experiments on dogs have failed to show any evidence of injury or disease to the canine species."
(Bulletin, Easton, Mass., U.S.A., April 2 1953.)
The antibiotic drug Chloramphenicol was responsible for causing leukemia and fatal aplastic anaemia in human beings.
"This drug was tried out for long periods on dogs and found to produce only a transient anaemia, but fatal results have followed its use in human disease..."
(Editorial, Medical Review, September 1953.)
"Extensive experiments on dogs failed to show evidence of injury or disease to the canine species."
(Bulletin, Easton, Massachusetts, April 2 1953.)
Streptomycin: This popular antibiotic caused birth defects such as limb malformations in the offspring of rats.
Clindamycin, an antibiotic, causes a bowel condition called pseudomenbraneous colitis. It was tested in rats and dogs every day for one year. They tolerate doses 10 times greater than humans.
Reg Tox & Pharm, 1990, vol.11, p 288-307
Br Med J, 1983, Jan 15, p 199-202
Br Nat Form, no.26, 1993
Claim: vaccines to prevent some of the most deadly and debilitating viruses
Reply: This is what Dr Albert Sabin, creator of the oral polio vaccine had to say...
"... prevention [of polio] was long delayed by the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."
Sabin, Albert, MD statement before the subcommittee on Hospitals and Health Care, Committee on Veterans Affairs, House of Representatives, April 26, 1984 serial no. 98-48.
As monkeys gain polio via the respiratory system and humans via the digestive system, the creation of the polio vaccine was delayed by 29 years by primate research and resulted in the creation of a nasal spray which did nothing but damage the olfactory (smelling) ability of children it was given to.
11. McKeown T: The Role of Medicine. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1979.
Re vaccines generally it is difficult to say what extent they have contributed to the elimination of disease and to what extent this is the result of hygiene (elimination of disease causing conditions via clean water and food, sewerage and rubbish removal, adequate living space, asepsis and antiseptic).
Either way vaccines can be made without animals and are more efficacious and less toxic if done this way. Non animal methods of vaccine creation and discovery are presented later.
Claim: and surgery for injuries, illnesses and deformities.
Reply: “I have never known a single good surgeon who has learned anything from vivisection.”- Dr Abel Desjardins, President of the Society of Surgeons of Paris, foremost surgeon of his time in France and Professor of Surgery, from “Slaughter of the Innocent” by Hans Ruesch
"Vivisection is barbaric, useless, and a hindrance to scientific progress. I learned how to operate from other surgeons. It's the only way, and every good surgeon knows that."
- Dr. Werner Hartinger, 1988, surgeon of thirty years, President of German League of Doctors Against Vivisection (GLDAV).
"Like every member of my profession, I was brought up in the belief that almost every important fact in physiology had been obtained by vivisection and that many of our most valued means of saving life and diminishing suffering had resulted from experiments on the lower animals. I now know that nothing of the sort is true concerning the art of surgery: and not only do I not believe that vivisection has helped the surgeon one bit, but I know that it has often led him astray."
- Prof. Lawson Tait, M.D., 1899, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (F.R.C.S.), Edinburgh & England. Hailed as the most distinguished surgeon of his day, the originator of many of surgery's modern techniques, and recipient of numerous awards for medical excellence.
"I have seen surgeons who carried out experiments on some organs from dogs in the belief that these were identical with those of humans, and they did not know they were cutting into a quite different organ, even into a lymphatic gland instead of the thyroid gland. Nobody has become a surgeon because of having operated on animals. He has only learnt wrongly through animals. I have been able to see this over my many decades as a surgeon, also as a Director of Hospitals. I have carried out tens of thousands of operations on people without ever performing them first on an animal."
(Prof. Sr Salvatore Rocca Rossetti, Surgeon and Professor of Urology at the University of Turin, Italy, in the science programme Delta on Italian television, March 12 1986.)
In Vivisection: Science or Sham, Dr Roy Kupsinel wrote in 1988 the following about surgical techniques:
"To gain experience, first an aspiring surgeon should practice on human cadavers, then observe experienced surgeons at work on human patients. They can help out with simple operations, then progress to more complex ones as experience permits. Even the vivisection manuals caution medical students about applying surgical techniques from animals to humans."
"Though the research community would like the public to believe that the use of animals is responsible for the breakthroughs in surgical methods, what really happens follows this typical pattern: In the effort to overcome heart disease, the heart of a human heart attack victim is studied during autopsy. An operation is then proposed to overcome the coronary artery blockage. Extensive animal experiments are then conducted in hopes of developing the surgical skill and in determining the feasibility of the operation on human patients. If the animal lives a false sense of optimism develops and human trials are begun. Due to the variation in blood clotting and anatomical differences between animals and humans, the initial surgeries on humans result in a high frequency of deaths from the operation. Over time, as the surgeons perfect the operation on actual patients, mortality rates from the operation decrease. Surgeons initially claim that the operation will prolong life, but as time goes on it becomes clear that the operation still kills many patients, and in fact doesn't improve the ultimate survival of coronary artery disease in patients. The operation passes out of vogue and is replaced by another one which passes through the same stages of evolution."
In Experimental Surgery, Dr J. Markowitz states:
"The operative technique described in these pages is suitable for animals, usually dogs. However, it does not follow that it is equally and always suited for human beings. We refuse to allow the student the pretence that what he is doing is operating on a patient for the cure of an ailment."
"The gastro-intestinal tract in man is unfortunately very different from that of animals, and the results of a new operation for gastric disease cannot be predicted from operations on dogs."
(Editorial, Lancet, May 1951, page 1003.)
"Many years ago I carried out on the Continent sundry operations upon the intestines of dogs, but such are the differences between the human and the canine bowel, that when I came to operate on man I found I was much hampered by my new experience, that I had everything to unlearn, and that my experiments had done little but leave me unfit to deal with the human intestine."
(Sir Frederick Treves, Director of London Hospital, Surgeon to the Royal Family and world-renowned authority on abdominal surgery, British Medical Journal, November 5 1898, page 1389.)
Dr. Werner Hartinger of Germany agrees:
"The claim, frequently heard, that animal experimentation is vital for the training of surgeons and that practice on living animals is necessaryto gain manual and operating skills cannot be left unchallenged. A surgeon acquires his basic knowledge by observing and then assisting his teacher.In time, according to his experience, ability and manual dexterity he participatesin supervised operating duties, until the surgeon responsible for his training,decides as to when he can start operating on his own. Specialized knowledgeof microsurgery is gained in the same way, just as working at the surgicalmicroscope does not call for operating on animals."
"Experiments have never been the means for discovery; and a survey of what has been attempted of late years in physiology will prove that the opening of living animals has done more to perpetuate error than to confirm the just views taken from the study of anatomy and natural motions."
- Sir Charles Bell, M.D., 1824, F.R.C.S., discoverer of "Bell's Law" on motor and sensory nerves.
Open-heart surgery is a classic example of surgery that was successful on dogs and fatal to humans. The procedure depends on the heart-lung machine, which tested well on dogs and killed the first human patients. It was later modified according to human clinical observation and is now used successfully every day
Many surgeons have done trial procedures on lab animals, but many others have admitted that working on animals confuses the issue. Common sense suggests that orthopaedic surgery on a dog, for example, will differ greatly from that on a human. Applying animal data to the human body is always unscientific. Here are some examples:
Once ophthalmologists practiced radial keratotomy (corrective eye surgery) on rabbits, they later tried it out on humans. After blinding many individuals, doctors modified the procedure for the human eye. Had they originated their research on the human eye through in vitro or autopsy research, these tragedies would have been prevented.
Extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass procedures for inoperable carotid artery disease were tested and perfected on dogs and rabbits. Once approved for humans, neurosurgeons performed thousands of EC-ICs before they discovered the operation caused death and strokes more often than it resulted in recovery. Yasargil, M.G., ed. Microsurgery Applied to NeurosurgeryGeorge Thieme Verlag 1969. Donaghy, R.M.P and Yasargil, M.G. Eds. Microvascular Surgery, Mosby, 1967.
Thousands of cats, dogs, pigs and primates have been sacrificed to find successful procedures for organ transplants. But despite the number of practice surgeries on animals, the first human operations fail.
By practicing procedures on non-humans, surgeons lead patients to believe their risk is minimal. Unfortunately, when a new method is introduced and tested on a human subject, projected results are no more than guesswork. By conducting the initial operations on human cadavers, doctors would reduce this risk and improve patient care.
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