Increasingly, scientists and animal advocates are questioning the scientific validity of animal experimentation. Indeed, many health problems currently afflicting humans, such as psychopathology, cancer, drug addiction, Alzheimer’s, and AIDS, are species-specific. As a result, accurately translating information from animal studies to human patients can be an exercise in speculation. Patients and physicians should drugs in american society pdf cautious about extrapolating the findings of prominent animal research to the care of human disease.
Even high-quality animal studies will replicate poorly in human clinical research. A significant amount of time and money, not to mention animal lives, is squandered in the process. It is difficult to know how frequently this occurs, since drugs that fail in animals are rarely tested in humans. There have, however, been some notable cases.
Although Lipitor, Pfizer’s blockbuster drug for reducing cholesterol, did not seem promising in early animal experiments, a research scientist requested that the drug be tested in a small group of healthy human volunteers. It was only then that its effectiveness was demonstrated. In many instances, medical discoveries are delayed as researchers waste time, money, effort, and animal lives trying to create an animal model of a human disease. A classic example is the discovery that smoking significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. The finding was first reported in 1954 on the basis of an epidemiological study. The report was dismissed, however, because lung cancer due to inhalation of cigarette smoke could not be induced in animal models.
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Another noteworthy example concerns the development of the polio vaccine. Researchers spent decades infecting non-human primates with the disease, and conducting other animal experiments, but failed to produce a vaccine. The key event, which led directly to the vaccine and a Nobel Prize, occurred when researchers grew the virus in human cell cultures in vitro. On top of this, the design of animal experiments is often inherently flawed, making it that much less likely that results obtained from such studies will be useful.