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On this World Diabetes Day, it is time for all animal experiments used to study the disease to be replaced by human research, writes the doctor. Julia Baines.
Ask any caring person if they support animal testing when effective and humane options exist, and they will probably tell you no.
So why are animals still used in experiments to study diabetes? There are options that use human cells, mechanical devices and computer models, but experimenters continue to subject animals to appalling cruelty.
The answer is simple: they continue doing it out of habit.
Animals have been used and mistreated in experiments for so long that many scientists automatically turn to them, seeing them as just another piece of laboratory equipment.
In 2022, more than 2.76 million experiments were carried out on animals in Britain alone, including thousands of dogs, horses, rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as pigs, primates and other species.
But today we know that it is inconceivable to treat living beings that feel like this. Like humans, other animals feel pain and fear. And, more importantly, there are important biological differences between species, especially when it comes to diabetes.
Cruelty to animals does not work
Diabetes is a key area explored by PETA scientists, who have developed the Research Modernization Agreement, a detailed strategy to end animal testing, including immediately ending some uses and phasing out others.
They recommend an immediate end to animal experiments for diabetes in favor of the many human options available.
There is no reason on Earth why animals should be subjected to cruelty in the name of diabetes research, and there are plenty of reasons not to: Not only are animal experiments invasive and cruel, they are bad science. .
In fact, they may delay the search for a cure, as funds are diverted from human-relevant tests that could actually help people.
It is estimated that “the development of a new drug can take 10 to 15 years and more than 2 billion dollars (1.87 billion euros), and about 95% of human studies fail.”
Useless, brutal and outdated
It is clear that there is a problem with the current paradigm for developing, testing drugs and bringing them to market, and animal testing has been identified as one of the factors contributing to this.
Great advances can be achieved in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes and breast cancer if useless, cruel and outdated experimentation on other species is abandoned and commitment is made to research relevant to human beings.
Some drugs that work in other species actually harm humans, and vice versa. Between 1984 and 2014, more than 50 academic articles were published per month on type 2 diabetes based on laboratory tests in rodents.
These tests revealed a lot of information to scientists about the rodents, but did not predict that thiazolidinedione drugs would be harmful to humans, increasing their risk of cardiovascular death by 64%.
Animal testing predicts the outcome in that animal. Rodents differ from humans in the way they process glucose, from the level of nucleic acids to differences in proteins, pathways, cells, tissues and organs.
Richness of alternatives
What is the alternative? There are a wide variety of options for cruelty-free and human-relevant diabetes research: human imaging, in vitro technology, induced stem cells in humans, three-dimensional cell cultures, use of post-mortem human organs and tissues, non-human imaging. invasive diseases, human epidemiological and genetic studies and advanced computer models.
Scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University used human cells from a tissue bank to generate wound healing models for diabetic patients with difficulty healing and controlling skin infections.
And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a closed-loop insulin pump developed using computer models rather than animal trials.
While millions of euros have been wasted in HIV/AIDS vaccine research torturing primates, human trials quickly led to COVID-19 vaccines. This experience demonstrated how human trials can provide rapid and effective results.
It is human biology that is needed to find cures and better treatments for diabetes, and the sooner funds are dedicated to supporting innovation in these fields, rather than propping up the outdated habit of testing on animals, the sooner we will find them.
Dr.Julia Baines is responsible for science policy at PETA.
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