The Benefits of Animal Research

This article was written by Liz Hodge.

Most of us like a great steak, but may not want to think about how it arrives on our plate. Similarly, we want medicines, vaccines, antibiotics, surgery and diagnostic tools when we’re sick, but we may not care to know how exactly these treatments make it into our hospitals and pharmacies. Well, chances are, scientists developed them with the help of laboratory animals. Nearly every medical breakthrough involves animal research. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, dialysis to organ transplantation, vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every drug, treatment, medical device, diagnostic tool or cure we have today was developed with the help of laboratory animals. Each day, dedicated scientists study animals to find new cures for diseases and conditions that are currently incurable.

Animal research

Animal Research: Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights

Essentially every major medical advance in the last century — from antibiotics to analgesics such as Tylenol or Motrin, from blood transfusions to organ transplantation, from vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement — is based on knowledge obtained through research with animals. In fact, almost 75% of all Nobel Prizes in Medicine awarded since 1901 were won for discoveries that required the use of animals [1].

Mouse on test tubes

Indeed, animal-based research has contributed to a significant improvement in the quality and length of human life. From cancer to heart disease and stroke to diabetes, society benefits from the use of laboratory animals in biomedical research [2]. Unfortunately, there is a worldwide movement that seeks to halt those advances and establish moral and legal equality between humans and animals, to eliminate the status of animals as property (meaning domestic pets and livestock for food), and to stop the use of animals in biomedical research.

The debate between those who support animal research and those that don’t often gets portrayed in such a way that it appears that one group cares about animals while the other group doesn’t. This isn’t the case at all — fundamentally, the issue is how to reduce the total suffering for both humans and animals.