During the course of the last century, the advances in medical research have been remarkable. Our understanding of the human body and the diseases which affect it have grown immeasurably. We are now able to diagnose and successfully treat illnesses that killed thousands, even at the beginning of the 20th century.
Listed below are some of the landmark discoveries of the last 400 years in basic research, all of which relied on animal experiments.
Discovery of blood circulation
Discovery of the function of the lungs
Measurement of blood pressure
Vaccination to stimulate immunity
Understanding of infectious diseases
Discovery of antibodies
Understanding of hormone systems
Discovery of vitamins
Discovery of the mechanism of nervous impulses
Discovery of tumour viruses
Understanding of embryonic development
Understanding of the control of muscle activity
Understanding of energy metabolism
Understanding of the mechanism of hearing
Discovery of monoclonal antibodies
Understanding of the biochemical functions of the liver
Understanding of transplantation antigens
Understanding of the way some aspects of how the brain works
Discovery of prostaglandins
Development of transgenic animals
Understanding the basis of memory
Understanding of the genetic basis of atheroma
Importance of nitric oxide as a local chemical messenger
The development of many major medical treatments has also depended on animal research.
Without research on animals none of these would have been discovered or safely developed.
Below are listed some of the better known examples of these.
Insulin for diabetes
Broad-spectrum antibiotics for infections
Whooping cough vaccine
Heart / lung machine for open heart surgery
Replacement heart valves
Joint replacement materials
Coronary bypass operations
Drugs to treat ulcers
Improved sutures and surgical techniques
Drugs to treat asthma
Drugs to treat leukaemia
Immunosuppresant drugs for organ transplants
Life-support for premature babies
Genetic therapy for cystic fibrosis
Recombinant technology makes purer drugs
Electronic implants for deafness and immobility
Many of these applications have also benefited veterinary medicine, which in some small way repays the debt humanity owes to the animals used.
Undoubtedly our quality of life has benefited enormously from this research and discovery and there are still many discoveries to come. While no one would want to use animals if there was an alternative, it is plain to see that their use has benefited all of us.