The Importance of Animal Models in Vaccines
If you have ever taken any type of medicine or had a vaccine, you have benefited from animal testing: Research with animals led to vaccinations against smallpox, measles, mumps, and tetanus. The world’s first vaccine was tested on a cow in 1796 during the observation of milkmaids who caught cowpox , which is now called smallpox, from infected cow utters. This disease was eradicated in 1980 with the help of lab animals. Looking at the more frequent viruses in our everyday lives like bacterial infections, which happen to be extremely common and affect many people during their lives. Today most of them are readily treatable with antibiotics such as penicillin. The effectiveness of penicillin and other antibiotics as treatments for bacterial infections were first tested on mice and other rodents in the 1940’s and later used to treat dying soldiers in World War II. Today, scientists will continue to use animals to determine what antibiotics are useful against fighting specific organisms, their toxicity levels, and any possible side effects. Medical researchers need to understand health problems before they can develop ways to treat them.
Another significant vaccine that was discovered with the service of animals in medical research was the polio vaccine. Polio is a highly infectious disease that mainly affects children under the age of 5. It invades the nervous system and can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. The polio vaccine which was tested on chimpanzees, reduced the global occurrence of disease from 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 22 cases in 2017. Polio is now practically unknown in the USA and Europe and more than 16 million people have been saved from paralysis (Animal Testing, 2016). Another very important discovery was in the early 1920’s when Frederick Banting found the hormone insulin in the pancreatic extract of dogs. He instituted that it significantly lowered the dog’s blood glucose levels to normal. Banting and his medical student, Charles Best, continued working on their discovery and perfected it in 1922. They used it to successfully treat a young boy with severe diabetes and went on to win the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Roughly one million people in the world use insulin for their diabetes (Animal Testing, 2016). Thanks to lab animals, we now have important vaccines to treat everyday illnesses.
Moving on to my second point, I would like to address that testing on animals saves their lives too: veterinary medicine has the advantage when medical researchers use lab animals. This type of research helps veterinary science by improving vaccines, treatments, surgical procedures and nutritional needs for our sick pets. A lot of people who have pets would agree that they are considered part of the family, and most would also agree that when they are sick they take their pets to the vet to see what is wrong with them. Well it is true that animals can suffer from many of the same diseases that humans suffer from including heart disease, cancer, microbial diseases and epilepsy as well as bacterial infections and parasites. A case study done in Africa for the Ebola crisis, with the focus of all human victims this disease has also affected the gorilla population. It was estimated that one third of the world’s population of gorillas and chimpanzees have been wiped out by Ebola since the 1990’s (Murnaghan, 2018). Research for treatments of this terrible disease have involved monkeys with the hope that new human medicines will also be able to protect the wild animals. With that, we can now conclude that animal testing has led to many advances in veterinary science and veterinarians will keep developing products to improve the health of pets, with the support of lab animals.