Alternatives to Animal Testing and ResearchAlternatives to Animal Testing and Research
Computer models and cell cultures, as well as other adjunct research methods, reduce the number of animals used.
But there is no way to completely replace animal testing and research because the pathway to fully duplicating a whole, living system does not yet exist.
Cell cultures and computers are limited in what they can model. A cell culture is not a full living system, like an animal or person, so it doesn’t show how a disease or drug works throughout the entire body. Researchers can study diseases like cancer cells in a petri dish, but they don’t behave the same way in a dish as in a living, breathing animal or person. So researchers must study treatments for diseases in a whole living system in order to discover and develop new drugs to fight them. They can’t do that in a single cell or with tissue in a petri dish alone.
Computers are a great tool, but limited. To study a disease using a computer model you have to know enough about the disease in the first place to create a model of it. If a researcher is trying to understand how a disease works and acts within a person, she can’t make that discovery with computers alone. Discovery requires living systems – both human and animal.
As additional alternatives are developed, science will naturally reduce the need and use of animal models. This progression will happen when viable alternatives exist and are scientifically validated. The scientific community looks forward to the day when animal testing and research is no longer needed in the future.