Benefits of animal research
Research provides opportunities for scientists to improve the lives of both humans and animals. Many different animals are used for scientific studies, such as cows, dogs, cats, pigs, mice, rabbits and primates.
Animals are used in scientific experiments because by using real-life models, scientists are able to gain more knowledge about the animal. The results of animal research can relate to other species of animals including humans. Human health has benefitted from the use of animals in scientific research. Some studies are harmful for human health, so scientists study animals when there is no other option. Areas of human health that have benefitted or could benefit from animal research include cancer, obesity, heart disease, infectious disease and diabetes (Ireland et al., 2008). Research on animals has led to vaccines against smallpox, measles, mumps, diphtheria and tetanus.
One promising area of animal research is research into Xenotransplantation. Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of organs between species, mainly from pigs to humans (Cooper et al., 2002). Researchers are studying the possibility of using pig organs in humans because pig and human organs are very similar. More research needs to be done, but there is a possibility that humans could have pig hearts, kidneys and livers. Pig insulin is already being used in people with diabetes. Without such research on animals, lifesaving technologies may not have been possible.
Through research, scientists are able to learn more about animals so that farmers and pet owners can keep animals healthy and produce more food to feed a growing population.
Researchers that study animal behavior can help farmers design barns that are more comfortable for animals and improve the overall health of animals. A fistulated cow, a cow with a hole in its stomach, is a research tool used by scientists to study cow digestion. With this knowledge, farmers can better feed the cows to produce more milk. By conducting research on animals, farmers are able to more accurately provide healthy solutions to problems and can take the guess work out of diagnosing illnesses.
Health benefits resulting from animal research include finding vaccines to deadly viruses, such as distemper, rabies, feline leukemia and canine parvo virus. Your pets are healthier and able to live longer due to past research on animals.
Safe, affordable, high-quality and nutritious food is something that everyone in the United States should have access to. Through animal research, scientists are able to develop animals that are healthier and can enter the food production system. By breeding for important traits, scientists are able to improve the size of chickens and other meat animals, improve the health benefits of milk and improve egg production.
Animal researchers are regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act, which is a law that protects animals from unnecessary harm and unneeded research. Research animals are treated with respect and are used with the utmost care. Many U.S. states also have laws to protect animal welfare. University scientists also have to get approval from an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to conduct animal research.
Cooper, D., Gollackner, B., & Sachs, D. (2002). Will the pig solve the transplantation backlog?. Annual Review of Medicine, 53(1), 133-147.
Ireland, J. J., Roberts, R. M., Palmer, G. H., Bauman, D. E., & Bazer, F. W. (2008). A commentary on domestic animals as dual-purpose models that benefit agricultural and biomedical research. Journal of Animal Science, 86, 2797-2805. doi: doi:10.2527/jas.2008-1088.