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Animal-Orientated Medicine: The Be-All Or The End-All?

Dr David Johnson

I want to emphasise that DBAE exists to bring about the immediate and total abolition of animal experimentation, on scientific and medical grounds. It does not argue the case from the moral or sentimental points of view, which have already been very adequately covered elsewhere.

I have divided this talk into four sections. These are not clearly demarcated, because inevitably there is a degree of overlap in many instances. The sections are as follows:

Mistaken Deductions and Conclusions
Limitations of Animal-Orientated Medicine
Alternative Research Methods
Alternative Forms of Treatment Not Involving Animal Studies

Mistaken Deductions and Conclusions

It is well known and plain for any common-sense observer to see that, under various forms of stress, there is a physiological change in the human and the animal, involving all aspects of cardiac and respiratory functions and, in some instances, bowel function. Keeping animals in captivity, that is, in alien surroundings, is a potent stress factor. The same applies to the capture and subsequent transport of wild animals to experimental laboratories.
Submitting animals to laboratory tests, often without analgesia (68% of tests at the last count), is clearly an even greater stress factor. This, in itself, invalidates all data obtained under such circumstances. It is illogical to hope that information thus gained is scientifically reliable. So why does vivisection continue? Firstly, the drug companies find it very lucrative. Secondly, all young doctors aspiring to promotion are required to quote such results in the papers that they submit for publication.

Sir Karl Popper, an eminent philosopher, as reported in the Sunday Telegraph of 2 August 1992, derided science as "an activity combining high creative imagination with rigorous testing of results". Bearing in mind that animals show little resemblance to humans physiologically, metabolically or biochemically, the continued animal testing of drugs for human use shows little if any imagination, let alone "high creative imagination" - only wanton commercialism. Furthermore, if the results were rigorously tested, there would be fewer court hearings. On this definition alone, and with some justification, animal testing can be shown to be unscientific.
To quote Sir George Pickering, former Professor of Medicine at Oxford: "The idea, as I understand it, is that fundamental truths are revealed in laboratory experiments on lower animals which are then applied to the problems of the sick patient. Having trained as a physiologist, I feel in a way competent to assess such a claim. It is plain nonsense." As evidence of this, bear in mind that eight anti-arthritic drugs have resulted in 19,280 recorded cases of serious side-effects and 408 deaths. Also, a recent study of eleven drugs showed 72,177 major side-effects and 2,520 deaths.

A slightly different aspect of this nonsense was quoted by Professor Booth, Head of the Addiction Research Group at Strathclyde University, in the Sunday Telegraph of 26 April 1992, as follows: "The popular conception of drug addiction as a helpless thraldom to an insatiable chemical demon is predicated on a combination of mistaken interpretations of laboratory experiments on rats and mice and a naive acceptance of what addicts say."

Artificially induced disease in experimental animals is irrelevant to the study of human disease, because the results produced, and the conditions pertaining at that time and place, are not accurately reproducible elsewhere at some other time, thus failing to fulfil the scientific criteria.

Limitations of Animal-Orientated Medicine

Humans are intrinsically different from other species, with a dissimilar physiology, biochemistry and metabolism. The only "animal" that is similar is another human. Animals have different diseases and reactions to drugs. Therefore, taking into consideration what has already been said, to believe that results obtained from animal testing can be extrapolated to humans is, at best, wishful thinking and., at worst, scientific fraud. And in many cases this practice is highly dangerous, whilst in others it can deprive the patient of effective treatment. Tamoxifen is such an example. At first is was thought to promote cancer, since it does so in rats, but, thanks to clinical studies on patients, it is now widely used in treatment of breast cancer.
On very many occasions, real advances in medicine have come from clinical, post-mortem and epidemiological studies. Sadly, these worthwhile benefits have been delayed in some instances. For example, the health warnings which clearly related smoking to the development of lung cancer were ignored. Why do you suppose that would be? Over many years, the experimental laboratories had failed to induce lung cancer in experimental animals by the forced inhalation of tobacco smoke. Perhaps the tobacco companies and the Treasury should also bear some responsibility. Likewise, the connection between excessive alcohol consumption and cirrhosis of the liver was discounted, on the grounds that it could not be reproduced in the laboratory!

The pro-vivisection fraternity make much of the importance of animal experiments in the discovery of insulin. Factual evidence disproves this. Thomas Cawley, in 1788, rust discovered the link between the pancreas and diabetes. In 1915, Schafer named the products of the islets of Langerhans as insulin. The islets of Langerhans were discovered as a result of clinical work. Banting and Best, who have received all the credit for the discovery of insulin, in 1921 and 1922 completely misinterpreted the results of their own animal experiments (Dr Roberts, BMJ, 1922, and Michael Bliss, medical historian).

Penicillin would have been lost to mankind had it been tested on guinea-pigs: they would have died as a result. Initial tests on rabbits showed that penicillin was deactivated in the bloodstream. Its use was therefore unfortunately delayed until work on mice, some time later, showed it to be "safe". But there was one final twist to the saga: when Fleming was faced with a severely ill boy, he hesitated to use penicillin initially, then he compromised, in view of the boy's illness, by simultaneously injecting both the boy and the cat. The cat died, and the boy survived! Fortunately, Fleming did not wait to see the results of the cat's reaction to the penicillin, for the boy was too ill. The patient made a remarkable recovery, and penicillin was accepted.

Corneal transplants were delayed for nearly 90 years, thanks to the results of animal studies, the breakthrough coming from clinical work.

The misleading results from work on dogs delayed open-heart surgery by 10 years. The same applies to kidney transplants.

According to Dr Albert Sabin, work on polio prevention was held up by an erroneous conception of polio in humans, because of misleading information from experimental work using monkeys.

Despite extensive animal-based research, birth defects in the USA have increased fourfold in the last 40 years.

According to Robert Bell, MD, Vice-President of the International Cancer Research Society, "it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion, in regard to man, by experimenting on animals." The International Agency for Cancer Research, part of the World Health Organisation, states that 80 to 90 per cent of all cancers are preventable, being attributable to well-established dietary, life-style and environmental causes. In 1933, the Lancet stated that "All our knowledge about structure, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in man comes from clinical methods and owes nothing to animal experiments."

Scientific studies have shown that modern improvements in longevity are due to better sanitation, nutrition and living conditions but not to animal-tested medicines.
Many of the experiments and associated studies are shrouded in secrecy. If the work were founded on a sound scientific basis, there would be no need for such secrecy. Worldwide, 10,000 animals die every hour. In British laboratories, 3.24 million per year die; and 68% (or .2 million) of these do so without any anaesthetic at any stage of the experiment, according to the, latest Home Office figures. In order to satisfy this insatiable demand, many wild species have been decimated - for example, 150,000 chimpanzees remain, but 20,000 died in 1990 alone.

As an attempt to offset the ruthless consumption of animals in the name of science, the European Patent Office has ruled that life-forms can be patented - hence the "onco-mouse", which should develop cancer in the first three months of its miserable life, thanks to genetic manipulation.

Vivisection is dictated by convenience, not science. It is a strange, unrealistic mind that accepts a genetically engineered moron as a replica of human physiology, or at least one that pertains to it. It may be a feat of engineering, but it has no place in the meaningful study of human disease and its treatment, for it bears even less resemblance to us than its unfortunate predecessors do.

Tuberculosis is still endemic in the UK, still a potent cause of death in world terms, and is undergoing a renaissance in other parts of the developed world, particularly the cities of the USA - for example, New York. Factors promoting this are: old age, malnutrition, concomitant pulmonary disease, alcoholism, drug addiction, Diabetes Melitus, corticosteroid therapy, gastric resection and immunosuppression (including HIV disease). This was reported by Dr Stephen Green, in the Medical Monitor, 31 July 1992. The WHO estimates that 10 million develop clinical TB annually worldwide, of whom 3 million die. This information came to light through sound clinical practice and epidemiological studies, not through animal experiments.
The UK has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world, resulting in 180,000 deaths annually. This is largely preventable and occurs despite extensive animal research and a vast array of cardiac-orientated drugs.

The drug companies have the most to gain from the continuation of vivisection and are the biggest users in the UK of laboratory animals. An\example of this is the market for anti-arthritic drugs, which in the UK is worth £100 million in sales. Despite animal testing, Opren, an anti-arthritic drug, caused 61 fatalities, and serious side-effects in 3,500 other patients, after only 20 months' clinical use. Thalidomide, Evaldin, Halcyon, Clioquinol, Chloramphenicol and Butazolidin are but a few examples of the many drugs which produced serious side-effects, despite extensive animal testing.

At its formation on 3 February 1992, the All-Italian Scientific Anti-Vivisection Committee stated that "Vivisection is a methodological error, leading to experimentation on man and corruption of the culture and behaviour of the physician. A fallacious scientific method cannot be either regulated or reduced; it must be eradicated." I totally agree.

Finally in this section, let me say a few words about AIDS. All knowledge of this scourge has come from epidemiological and clinical research. There is some evidence that AIDS started in the laboratory. In the USA, in many centres during the 1960s and '70s, blood from chimpanzees, macaques and mangabey monkeys infected with the malarial parasite was injected into humans!

Alternative research methods

Time does not allow me to go into detail about each method, but suffice it to say that true forms of research do exist which are scientific and relevant to human disease. They include epidemiology, which is the study of populations and disease; clinical practice, both medical and surgical; post-mortem studies; cell-tissue and organ-tissue culture; and analytical techniques involving mass spectrometry, mass chromatography and quantum pharmacology (computer modelling). The Lancet of 19 October 1985 stated, inter alia: "In recent years, many animal tests for the safety of viral vaccines have been replaced by cell-culture tests, which are more sensitive and reliable."

The Humane Research Trust has founded work at Surrey University on creating a new toxicity test, not involving animals and known as ComPACT, which combines developments in molecular biology and computer technology.

Professor Croce, in his recent book "Vivisection or science" (page 151), recommends the use of epidemiology with standardised collection over as wide an area as possible, to be evaluated by cybernetic methods and to have one centre for Europe and one for America, or preferably one international centre, with full computer facilities. I can strongly recommend this book.
Cell-toxicology studies using human cells are vastly superior to crude animal-screening techniques such as the LD50 tests, which are worthless, for they squander materials, money and time. In-vitro studies are more accurate, quicker and cheaper. By using human tissue, the erroneous and misleading information from animal studies is avoided.

The creation of tissue-storage banks is of prime importance. Both healthy and diseased tissue is valuable, for these enable comparisons to be made. Tissue is obtained from operations and post-mortems. Most importantly, human tissue remains viable for some time after death.

Alternative Forms of Treatment Not Involving Animal Studies

Here again, time does not allow me to go into these in detail, but the following are viable forms of treatment, which have stood the test of time:
Homoeopathy, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Herbalism and Hypnosis. There may well be others, for I do not claim that this list is exhaustive.

In 1957, the World Health Organisation defined health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being". Despite animal experiments for over a century, serious health problems still exist world wide, whilst the drug industry has blossomed, with ever-increasing and massive annual profits.

Modern medicine aims to cure. This is laudable, but it fails to do so, for much disease is avoidable simply by sensible living. It is modern medications that are responsible for 1 in 20 hospital admissions, and this percentage is increasing. Harmful reactions to medication reported to the Committee on the Safety of Medicine rose from 10,000 in 1980 to 17,000 in 1987. The BMJ in 1988 commented that this official figure represents a mere 10% of the true figure.

It is salutary to remember that one hundred years ago a man of 50 could expect to live until he was 70, whereas now it is 73. This is a very poor return for all the animal experimentation carried out in that time!

Vivisection is clearly a scientific fraud and failure and should be ended forthwith.

Finally, I should like to point out that the ending of animal experimentation will not result in the present workers being out of work. Quite the opposite should be the case, for they will be needed to deal with the extra work-load of human-based research.

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