< A Battle of the Century: Animals v. Cells >
Brian Y. Lee - Diamond Bar High School / 11th Grade
What do you think of when I say mouse? Perhaps an image of a cute, fluffy, and adorable animal comes to mind. Yet, another side sees these animals as an opportunity for scientific discovery and breakthrough. For many years now, the ethicality of using live animals for the purpose of scientific study has been a raging debate with no signs of cooling off. In this article, I will discuss the pros, cons, and importance of incorporating not only animal studies, but also cell studies in experiments.
Many opponents of animal studies often argue that cell studies can completely replace animal studies and therefore make them obsolete. However, one of the most important benefits of using in vivo (animal) studies is its greater closeness to representing human conditions relative to in vitro (cell) studies. For example, when complex organs like the brain are involved in studies, reproducing such endogenous interactions of cells in vitro as accurately as they are produced in live animals is impossible. Senior at Troy Ryan says "Depending on what you're trying to test for, I would rather it be tested on an animal rather than a person. But, we still need laws and regulations to keep animals safe and not mistreated." Along the same lines, Eunice, a high school sophomore, says "If the results are the same thing [between both types of experiments] then I would prefer cell culture studies. Though it might be morally wrong, utilizing animal studies is good if necessary."
In addition, Multiple publications have tested and studied the implications of using animal models as opposed to other approaches in comparison to human reactions in detecting toxicity from substances, effectiveness of drugs, and a multitude of other experiments. These studies found that, in a majority of cases, in vivo studies produced greater accuracy in predicting the same outcome in humans by multiple folds. That is to say, in vivo experimentation is a better means of studying drugs, carcinogens, and a plethora of other aspects of life and their effects on humans.
But, this is not to say in vitro experimentation is obsolete. When a researcher wants to determine the exact function, structure, and subsequent interactions of a cell, he cannot utilize a whole animal. Instead, cells, whether they be grown or extracted, must be purified and therefore separated. Once cells are separated from adjacent cells, the single cell can be extensively studied and research that could not be conducted on a living animal can take place.
All in all, it is important to remember that both in vivo and in vitro experimentation are necessary for the most accurate results and, therefore, should both be used when apt.