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Don’t Believe Experimenters’ Lies

Written by PETA | April 22, 2011

Although experimenters would have you believe that they only torment animals when alternatives are not available, PETA always exposes this for the blatant lie that it is. The truth is, facilities such as the University of Michigan, the Medical University of South Carolina, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital are still subjecting cats and pigs to invasive, painful, and often deadly procedures in some training courses even though the facilities already teach the same exact skills in other courses using sophisticated and superior human-patient simulators! It’s up to us to ensure that these cruel animal laboratories are replaced with modern methods that spare animals and better prepare trainees to treat human patients. As World Week for Animals in Laboratories comes to a close, you can help by urging the University of Michigan to cut animals out of its training courses and switch to cutting-edge technology instead.

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  • Birdie says:

    A bit surpiresd it seems to simple and yet useful.

  • Shannon says:

    Animal testing will stop when scientists develop a cheaper method of testing. The reality is that money talks and corporations will not change unless there is profit involved. Luckily, human in-vivo test models are currently being tested and validated. Once validated, they can be used instead of animals..they are cheaper and species specific. The EU is making a massive push towards ending animal testing.

  • Autumn says:

    In ethnical and medical reason Animal testing will never be right. Im sure you would not want some one testing drugs on you and your loved ones against your will, with painful procedures often ending in death, while there are alternatives avalible. Animals are not us, testing there lives will not truley benifit us in the long run, maybe it will help some live longer, but in a world where ethics mean nothing and lifes are carlessly thrown away? if something isnt done now will it ever be? Ethics matter, if you acknowledge or not.

  • Angela M Horton says:

    God did not put animals on this earth to be used and abused in a test lab. Animals are living, breathing and feeling beings. They do not deserve to be treated so inhumanely and a lot times left to suffer great pain from experiments before they die alone in a cold cage. We have so much modern technology that no animals should ever have to suffer the torment of experimentors. Please stop using animals and start using electronic technology!!

  • paul whitehouse says:

    please stop experimenting on animals as they have no choice

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, First, read the paper. They explain how specific improved and validated in vitro and animal models had already contributed to getting drugs to market faster and with a greater rate of success in the years preceding the report. You can’t insist there’s no guarantee they’ll be more efficacious when they’ve already been evaluated and compared to the preceding data in the paper you’re quoting from. Next, citing research where industry uses and abuses “science” for their own advantage is not an even remotely valid way to attack the utility of the animal model. The general public (including much of the government) doesn’t have the knowledge to identify unsound research, and the tobacco industry knew that very well (and pretty much every group with an agenda will latch on to any study that supports their cause *cough*). I guarantee you that no well-educated (and unbiased) life scientist would have accepted a claim that tobacco didn’t cause cancer based on the tobacco-funded experiments. The whole affair was nothing more than attempt to create doubt in the minds of people who didn’t know better. The primary thing you fail to recognize is that good scientists do appreciate the limitations of animal models as well as every other model we take advantage of. Two years ago I told you my colleague cured a rat model of tinnitus, and two months ago the methods he developed reversed tinnitus in patient zero. Even at this point going into a broader preclinical trial, not a single one of us will say the model accurately represents tinnitus. But now that we have seen the disorder reversed in a man, we can say that we are more certain about the underlying neurobiology in at least some forms of tinnitus based on knowing the treatments mechanism of action. Had it failed, we’d have one less possible hypothesis to test. Second, curing a “model” of disease is not equatable with curing the disease itself. I could model diabetes in a dish at the cellular level. I could model it in an animal at the systems level (or even in silico)…but not a single model is guaranteed to actually represent the disease accurately. This is the entire point of making models. You hypothesize the source of a problem, you make a model and see if the source causes an effect observed as a result of the problem, you fix the problem you created, and then you see if this actually is the problem. In the vast majority of the cases you don’t know the innumerable factors contributing to any given disease, and you only can figure these things out by systemic elimination of possibilities. It works the same way in Physics. The Earth could be considered analagous to an animal and a vacuum with a human. If you drop a rock and a feather from the top of the Burj Khalifa, you will find that the rock will hit the ground first. This would give you the mistaken impression that objects with greater mass fall with greater speed (“animal” results). You repeat the experiment in a vacuum and discover that they both fall at the same rate (“human” results). The “animal” results failed to predict the “human” results–however–now you learn about air resistance as a result of the discrepancy and have an even better understanding of gravitational forces than you would have if you were limited to either system. The primary difference here, is that while it’s relatively easy to repeat experiments in a vacuum…the most detailed and information-dense biological methods cannot be employed with humans in the majority of cases. All models have limitations and are fallible. The only way to avoid the use of a model is to be given unfettered access to the real thing–and until we have better non-invasive, low risk methods capable of gleaning the details we need to develop good treatments, models are all we’ve got. …and to sum up the point of the 92% paper in terms of Physics: “We’re still testing using models employing only principles of classical Physics, even though we have models that take into account magnetic fields, particle physics, quantum mechanics, etc., etc., etc.” “Old” methods of all types are the source of the problem. Not just animals like you continually insist. In regards to your statement “it seems animal testing is more rooted in money, politics, and tenure than it is in a bonafide attempt to help humanity.” Do you have any idea how unfair it is to limit this to just animal research? What evidence do you have that politics, tenure, and the “publish or perish” environment only taints and drives “animal” research. In my experience, these things have their grubby little paws in things as un-related as electrical engineering research. In fact, politics even works against animal research quite frequently. There is absolutely no reason for an academic researcher to choose animal research as a result of these pressures over any other possible avenue. The only factor that should contribute to this would be being an old-schooler with no experience using other techniques. Even human research is affected by these things. Try reassessing this notion with a little less bias next time. …and with regards to “some researchers predicted a cure in 5 years”: Please take note of the “some”. Were they the best, most ethical scientists with a proven track record in translational research–or were they just the “few” who suddenly switched to cancer research to enjoy basking in the funding/limelight that was created by the “War on Cancer” Like every group we’ve got our bad apples, and I’d wager there were plenty of published statements disagreeing with any such statement were it made.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Kalama, Just because researchers can avail themselves of newer, “improved,” genetically-manipulated animal models doesn’t mean these models will be any more efficacious than older models. Disease is still being induced artificially, and as such, the results can’t be reliably extrapolated to the human animal. Stanford researchers cured diabetes in the mouse in 1988, and now 23 years later they still can’t get it right in the human. Tobacco companies successfully denied the well-known cigarette/lung cancer link for decades, causing untold human suffering, because, much to their delight, animal models simply would not develop lung cancer. When the War on Cancer was declared in 1971, some researchers predicted a cure in 5 years—still waiting. As I stated in a previous post, it seems animal testing is more rooted in money, politics, and tenure than it is in a bonafide attempt to help humanity. You are well aware of the “publish or perish” environment in which you live. You are also well aware there are researchers who eschew the animal paradigm. Surely the vast collective IQ of academia can do better.

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, The report you are citing specifically identifies the use of in vitro and animal models “of the last century” as the primary factor underlying that outcome. They even go as far as to identify specific animal and in vitro models that have expedited and improved drug development that were implemented by the time of the report. This does not “underscore the futility of the initial animal tests”, it underscores the need to validate and put into practice the most advanced models available (which they hadn’t been doing). Furthermore, the efficacy of many of the failed drugs was determined only in vitro–the animals were only used for safety testing in these cases. So blaming the animal model specifically for the 92% failure rate is actually factually inaccurate. Summary: The problem is using old, highly fallible models without respect or even knowledge of their limitations–not the animal model specifically.

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, You aren’t presenting the 92% quote in its proper context. Additionally, not all of those drugs were tested for efficacy in animals. This statement comes from an HHS report that clearly denotes specific aspects of the drug development process that contribute to this problem, and even points out specifically how improved animal models have helped solve some problems. The basic points are: 1. The results are attributed to all methods used during the drug development process. The primary causative factors being the use of animal AND in vitro models “of the last century”, and failure to keep applied methods in step with the far more advanced knowledge gained from basic research. In other words, in many cases academia is using better models, but they haven’t been implemented in the drug development process yet. 2. The FDA cited animal models which have been developed that have drastically expedited and improved drug development, and recognized the importance of expending the effort to validate more of them (along with other non-animal models). So the very person who uttered your quote actually believes that there is great utility in animal models…not that they are futile. 3. Drugs that were tested in postulated disease models (where the biological mechanisms are not actually known) are also implicated as a primary contributor to drug failure. As usual, these hypothetical models were both animal and in vitro. A drug may hit Phase I and fail simply because they chose an in vitro model that didn’t capture the vital factor of a disease that required treatment. Some of these failed drugs weren’t even tested for efficacy in animals where no suitable models had been developed (only for safety). As usual, you forget that drugs are first tested in models of disease–and the models aren’t always correct. The repeated failures are what makes having a sound model possible. Is that not the way of empirical science? Make a guess. Test. Find out you’re wrong. Adjust to account for new observations. Test again…etc. If anything, the take-home message is “we’ve still got a lot to learn, and need to put forth the effort and resources to continually validate better models”, not “animal models are useless.”

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Kalama, The fact that 100,000 die each year from adverse drug reactions of course illustrates that human testing has to be at fault as well. But this fact only serves to really underscore the futility of the initial animal tests. Human testing only proceeds after successful studies with animals. If studies with animals indicate problematic health hazards, then these drugs won’t be permitted to advance to human studies. But even after promising animal studies, 92% of drugs still fail in human trials. Where is the predictive element? Ethics aside, the animal model is obviously not a valid testing environment for human-destined medications, and is, at best, redundant and misleading. This does not mean other methods are completely fail-safe, but it does indicate the archaic animal model only remains in place because of other considerations (such as lawsuit avoidance, inertia, profitability, etc.). Should testing be completely eradicated? Of course not, but ultimately drugs really only get truly tested when they interact in real-world environments, i.e. sick people. While not 100% conclusive, initial precautionary drug testing in a human clinical environment still offers the best predictability in the most timely fashion.

  • Leonardo Garcia says:

    And sadly people think they are smarter than animals.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Steve, Just because “all treatments and drugs have been tested on animals” doesn’t mean the animal tests were in the least responsible for the efficacy or safety of a given drug. The government requires animal drug testing prior to subsequent human clinical trials. Even then an astounding 92% of drugs fail during human trials. All of these failed drugs initially passed animal testing, which gives you an idea of how utterly useless animal drug tests are as a predictive safeguard for humans.

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, You say that since even one identical twin can’t be used as a predictive model of the other twin, that animal models must be so different that they’re totally useless. The problem here is, is that you are proposing a hypothetical boundary between “useful” and “useless” experiments based on biological similarity. However, unless you test on a specific individual (under a specific set of conditions) the results will never be 100% predictive. At what point do you draw the line? Clinical trials fail to detect adverse events because they don’t represent the entire population–are they valid despite being far less than 100% predictive and harming people as a result? Additionally, the behavior of cells in in vitro tests is rarely ever identical to that in the original organism (and is usually drastically altered by the growth medium and the surrounding environment). Also, in vitro models mimicking human systems are designed based on properties observed in humans and/or animals. These models assume that everyone works the same way in the same way that clinical trials assume that most people will have the same response to drugs. Unless you test innumerable humans, how can you validate the in vitro model? Clearly they’re not infallible as they’ve failed to save anyone from the adverse events you mentioned. Question is: How are in vitro tests (which frequently fail to produce accurate results regarding cellular behavior with respect to the host organism) any more valid than an animal model? Just because a cell comes from a human doesn’t mean it’s going to behave like it’s still in a human. As usual, every method failed to protect the people who were harmed by drugs, and the blame for that tragedy lies with all the methods–not the one you are ethically opposed to. First, this case would suggest that clinical trials are also pretty futile since there is considerable variability within the human population. Why test at all? Why not introduce new drugs into the population without testing them at all?

  • Steve says:

    I hope everyone who is against this and all animal testing for medical purposes do not use pharmaceuticals or seek out medical treatment, otherwise you are just another hypocrite touting “Do as I say and not as I do.” If you are against drug testing, then don’t take the drugs. If you are against the tests used to verify and fine tune a medical procedure, then don’t seek medical treatment, because all treatments and drugs have been tested on animals.

  • diya says:

    Human beings and animals do NOT have the same metabolism, they do NOT react the same way to products and all sort of chemicals; why in the world would scientists test products and experiment on animals?? DO IT ON A HUMAN BEING FOR *** SAKE! now let’s see what they have to say about this!

  • Magaly says:

    Todo ser vivo merece respeito e dignidade. NÃO ao sofrimento desnecessário dos animais.Isso é pura crueldade.

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, You asked why your logic suggests that human trials are futile. Because “the 100,000 of Americans that die each year from adverse reactions to drugs that were deemed safe according to animal testing” were also deemed safe in human clinical trials, and often even years of use in the general population. Most drugs that turned out lethal in the general population were tested out on animal and man before anyone realized the potential dangers. In vitro tests also failed to identify the dangers of these drugs. So how do you rationalize saying that only animal testing is at fault, or that only animal testing should be abolished when clearly none of the paradigms predicted the outcome? No tests are 100% predictive for all outcomes (even when repeated on the same individual on two consecutive days). Tests are only meant to look for signs of known outcomes that are relevant to humans. Even something as straightforward as a cytotoxicity test could fail simply based on the fact that a cell in a dish is VERY different from a cell in it’s native environment. Factually, the only thing to blame are the models being used. The specific animal model may not have been designed to detect an unknown and detrimental metabolic outcome, and its failure to do so would both contribute to the discovery of the pathway, as well as implementation of new models to avoid similar outcomes in the future. The same applies to in vitro testing. Inadequately designed clinical trials that produce catastrophic results also help improve future trials as well. “Precisely. So what is the point of mandatory testing of drugs on animals?” –That was already addressed in the sentence that followed it. Many animal models identify a specific outcome. (ie. If a man dies from severe allergic reaction and an animal test validated for use in testing for liver toxicity failed to detect this outcome, you can’t really blame the animal model). Where you totally fail to understand the way safety testing works is that every failure helps us understand our own biology better (as well as the associated animal’s). In fact, that’s the way all science works.

  • Irina Seifert says:

    experiments should be stopped!

  • Mike says:

    If you would not agree to be subject to experimentation yourself, then it is wrong to force defenseless beings to endure that torture. They feel pain just as we do. They may feel and think more than we know. “Do onto others as you would have others do onto you” does not pertain only to “other” humans What kind of evil monsters are we to let this happen?

  • paulyyy says:

    Lets face it, number 1. animals are different to humans and have entirely different genes, just because something works for an animal does not mean it is going to cure humans; often medications can kill humans but not animals. 2. animals are living souls and feel pain and it is barbaric to test on them regardless of what it is for. There are so many alternatives out there it is unbeliveable but then again there are sick people in the world who like inflicting pain on animals. grrrr

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Kalama, “The validity of animal research is not restricted to safety testing.” Never said it was. “Of course, by your reasoning human clinical trials are pointless as well.” How so? “No reputable scientist would ever say, “Drug X was safe in rabbits, and is therefore safe in men.”” Precisely. So what is the point of mandatory testing of drugs on animals?

  • Emily says:

    @ student: yes, because PETA apparently stands up for the rights of homeless people…?

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    Mike, The validity of animal research is not restricted to safety testing. Of course, by your reasoning human clinical trials are pointless as well. No reputable scientist would ever say, “Drug X was safe in rabbits, and is therefore safe in men.” It’s usually more like, “Drug X did not cause detrimental effects in a rabbit model of liver toxicity and/or an in vitro assay of liver toxicity” Both cases may fail to be predictive, and when that is the case both models require fine-tuning.