• Question: What is your opinion of using animals in science experiments/for scientific research?

    Asked by yas338047 on 9 Mar 2020. This question was also asked by kgrandorge, eleanor19.
    • Photo: Ioana Grigoras

      Ioana Grigoras answered on 9 Mar 2020:

      Hi! I don’t currently work with animals, but I did for a while in the past. I’m working in Neuroscience, so I guess my perspective comes from looking at animals’ brains.

      I believe that there is important knowledge that we can only gain by making experiments with animals. For example, there are ways to stimulate or inhibit brain circuits in animals and see how that affects their behaviour or methods to look at individual cells in the brain and see how they fire. We cannot do that in humans, but this is all essential information to help us figure out how brains work and how we can help patients who have neurological diseases. Animals are also an important link when testing new drugs, because you need to check that drugs are absorbed and eliminated properly before administering them for the first time to a person.

      That being said, I think we should acknowledge that we could not do all of this without the animals and make sure that, while they are in our care, they get the best conditions and they live a good life. Also, when the time comes, the experiments should be run without inflicting any unnecessary stress or pain on the animals. The people I know that work with animals care about them very much and will check on them every day to make sure they have food, water and a clean environment.

    • Photo: Nuru Noor

      Nuru Noor answered on 9 Mar 2020:

      It’s a good question 👍 Although I don’t work with animals in research, I think it’s still an important process to try and understand and predict if new medicines will be safe to try in humans – hopefully one day we can move a bit more away from animal research but currently I think it’s still quite often and probably still quite important if we want to develop better treatments to help people we know get better from medical conditions! Great question.

    • Photo: Sarah Clarke

      Sarah Clarke answered on 9 Mar 2020:

      Good question and a very important one too. Like Ioana and Nuru, the work I am doing at the moment doesn’t involve animals. That said, I also believe that, at the moment, research in animals in a very important part of science. We are trying more and more to move away from animal research and find new/different ways of getting the scientific information we need for experiments. But at the moment there are some areas of research that would be very difficult to do without using animals – that includes testing new drugs or vaccines that will eventually be used to treat people, or to understand how diseases happen. In the UK, animals that are used in research are looked after by specialist animal handlers who make sure they are being looked after. We also have the NC3Rs in the UK (you can find it through google) – this is the National Centre for the 3 Rs in animal research. These are Replacement, Reduction and Refinement – can we “Replace” animals in our research with something else? Can we “Reduce” the number of animals that are used in an experiment? And can we “Refine” our methods/experiments to minimise animal suffering and improve welfare. Hopefully one day animal research will be a thing of the past, but we aren’t there yet.

    • Photo: Paige Chandler

      Paige Chandler answered on 10 Mar 2020:

      This is an important question to ask. I work with animals – my research uses mice. We always ask ourselves if we need to use mice for each and every experiment we plan to do, and we only use the mice if it’s necessary for the answer. I personally think that animal research is still essential to medical research. We don’t yet have anything better. We would like to stop using animals one day, and hopefully use only computers and artificial simulators, however the technology doesn’t yet exist.

    • Photo: Sarah Brown

      Sarah Brown answered on 10 Mar 2020:

      Hi! Great question! My research could have involved work with animals (mice) however I actively chose to go down a different route and work with Human cells in combination with mathematical modelling. Using maths is a great way to learn about mechanisms of disease without the use of animals – it is also much cheaper and faster! To inform these models we do need data however. The disease that my work looks at is asthma. Asthma is a human disease and the processes involved are very different in mice so, while you can learn a lot from looking at how it affects the respiratory system as a whole, I chose to work with Human cells outside of the body instead. I do acknowledge however the importance of using animals in scientific research as a whole!

    • Photo: Petruta Morvay

      Petruta Morvay answered on 10 Mar 2020:

      Thank you for asking this great question. Animals are only used in research as a necessity. For example, because of the need of understanding the effects or mechanism of a drug, which cannot be done otherwise. We can test on cells in the lab, but it is very limited to those cell types, and to the laboratory conditions. Cell are kept alive in culture and we give the drug directly in a tiny dish. We try to keep cells happy and in similar conditions with the natural environment, but this is all artificial. In the body, there are many, many, cell types and they constantly interact with each-other, they communicate. Either directly, because they are close to each other or through molecules they release. Practically, we may swallow an antibiotic (a pill that kills bacteria or an infection) to treat a severe ear infection but we might have a stomach pain with it. The antibiotic is first in the stomach, then absorbed through the blood and reaches the ear where it kills all the bacteria/infection. So when we take pills they will have an effect potentially also on other cells and organs than just the one we need to treat, which we cannot know in the laboratory conditions on cells. This complex interaction of the tested pill/drug with different cell types and with the organism (the whole body) is looked at and tested with animal experiments. Animals used in research are well taken care of, and handled by very well trained people. They should be in great condition and well treated, otherwise the studies on animals will not be allowed.

    • Photo: Sophie Arthur

      Sophie Arthur answered on 10 Mar 2020:

      It’s a great question. I never worked with animals myself, but I think the use of animals in research is a necessary evil. They help us to understand so many diseases and much more. It is so important that it is highly regulated though which it is in most countries. For example, in the UK, I think there is a restriction on how many mice you can use for one study and of course there are certain conditions that they have to use to keep them in too.

    • Photo: Samir Hopestone

      Samir Hopestone answered on 10 Mar 2020:

      I currently work with animals – we use mice to study human diseases. We follow a strict code of ethics called the 3Rs which stands for Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Replacement means using other alternatives to animals such as cells, Reduction means reducing the number of mice we use for research and Refinement means using methods which improve animal welfare and reduce animal suffering. My opinion is that it is necessary to use animals, but as long as the proper codes of ethics are followed.

    • Photo: Nathan Kindred

      Nathan Kindred answered on 12 Mar 2020:

      I work with monkeys currently and I previously worked with mice. I think that using animals in research is necessary but should only be done when there is no alternative. Animals in research must be well looked after and must not suffer unnecessarily.

    • Photo: Mahrukh Shameem

      Mahrukh Shameem answered on 12 Mar 2020:

      This is a great question.

      So I use mice in my work and I realised how many barriers there are until you can actually work with them. Here in the UK you have to pass a lot to work with them so its not easy.

      What I realised was that it is very difficult to get a project passed and that you have to prove why you need animals in a lot of detail

      I personally think using animals in scientific studies is very important and i think the way its done is very rigorous

    • Photo: Kate Mitchell

      Kate Mitchell answered on 13 Mar 2020:

      I think its something that is sometimes necessary to improve human health, but should be done as little as possible. When its being done because we want to know how to deal with a particular human disease, its important to make sure that the disease in that animal is actually similar to the disease in humans, otherwise it won’t actually tell us anything useful for human health.