Monday, February 9

Call to Action?

I came across an interesting pair of editorials in Nature focusing on the questions of "replacement" of animal models in research: Here and then a reply here (I'm guessing you'll need to be on campus to access these). If you can't do it there, leave a comment to that effect and I'll post a PDF. The reply takes a pretty strong stance: "A ban [on animal research] could be justified only if and when all brain function is understood, and if no further challenge is posed to neuroscience by the evolution of modern societies and their pathologies. Obviously, neither of these conditions will ever be realized." I want us to keep this stance in mind when we start talking about global health next week.

1 comment:

  1. After reading the article and the correspondence letter (not surprisingly from a physiologist), it is clear that an analysis for future animal research and a more open discussion is necessary. However it seems that the laws that would eventually be passed by the EU for protecting animal research would still be just limited to the ethical frame work based on (as suggested by Stephen Webster “Research ethics”) deontology (rules that the EU will impose) and on utilitarianism (relevance to serious disease or species preservation). How would one determine the seriousness of a disease? Is Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease more serious than dyslexia?

    I also found that in the letter by the physiologist supporting brain research on animals stating that the replacement of animals is never possible and these researches should continue till all the brain functions are fully understood, a brash and an irresponsible argument. It is because of the unclear definition of “animal rights” that invasive brain studies have been mostly in animals but with the development of modern sophisticated techniques (such as the functional magnetic resonance imagining) it has been found that the invasive brain studies in animals doesn’t describe most parts of human brain in one-to-one relationship. Thus the physiologists claim on total dependence on animal brain research for understanding how brain works is wrong and hence alternatives to animal research (for particular cases and not all as he suggests) should definitely be available. At the end of his argument he tries to lure the EU officials & fellow researchers (to whom he is addressing) using fame and recognition as an incentive though this clearly has nothing to do with the necessity for animal research.

    Because of the loophole in the research ethic discussion by basing ethical framework on deontology and utilitarianism and not considering value ethics (Stephen Webster “Research ethics”), the researchers (interested in the field) have disjoint their professional self from personal self (not even realizing that they have done so). Thus, the physiologist’s letter would sound uncaring to a lay person (but he could just be a really nice guy).


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