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BLOG: The Future Is Here – Non Animal Testing – Judith Snaith

Some may argue that it is not moral to grow human organs at all, let alone test on them. This level of playing God seems to be too futuristic to be comprehended as a current possibility.

I have grown up seeing science progress to the point of cloning sheep and growing ears on the back of mice. This has never sat well with me personally, yet I never heard many people opposing it. I have, however, heard a lot about people opposing stem cell research in recent years. I think it’s safe to say that humans put a much higher value on their own species than they do on the lives of other species.

Some organisations are making moves towards different kinds of non-animal testing, the most recent to hit the news is growing human hearts to test on. They are doing this to cut down the time and therefore the amount of money spent on testing drugs before they go to human trials. While the reasons behind this move may not be pure, the end result will certainly be more ethical than the cruel science experiments that we have grown up accepting as inevitability.

The human race is very accepting of tradition, things that have always been done and actions that are therefore deemed normal. Very few people challenge the system that they are in without something kick-starting the question in their mind. No person is born evil; no person buys an animal tested product because they are glad animals suffered, yet they still buy them.

The US Lawrence Livermore National laboratory (LLNL) has successfully recorded electrical signals and cellular beating from a heart grown on a microchip. Using these microchip hearts will allow them to make predictions about the effects of pharmaceutical drugs on the human heart. It is efficient – only taking 9 days to grow a heart on a chip. They hope that they will be able to reduce the need for animal testing by using this system.

Harvard have now printed a 3D medical device that holds heart tissue and can read its reactions to heart drugs. The Harvard researcher John Ulrik Lind has written a study on this device, he hopes that this heart on a chip will be able to hold person specific cells too, customising their use for individual patients. He thinks that these tests could be more accurate than animal testing and of course will be more humane.

An organ alone has nowhere to send pain messages to; with no brain connected, it cannot be conscious of its pain. In drugs and product testing there always has to be a human testing phase, as animal testing cannot truly show what effects the tested item will have on the human physiology, I believe that technology such as this will therefore completely replace the need for animal testing. It’s just logic really.

Once other companies notice the boost in effectiveness of this line of medical testing they will surely follow suit to keep up with competition. So despite the shaky moral foundation of these plans it may lead to not only the end of animal testing but it could open the minds of the public. Once they are no longer using animal tested medicines they will be able to see that the old style animal tests are not necessary. This means a veil will be lifted, people will be able to look at the atrocities they were paying into, that they may still be paying for in household goods or cosmetics. Once they can see that they will be free, there may even be a mass boycott and all companies will cease animal testing, governments may even make it illegal.

It is important that we support ground breaking moves such as these. It is steps like these. That could lead to the entire world changing its outdated view of animals being here for our disposal.