My opinion about the use of animals for research is somehow aligned with the guidelines of the American Psychological Association. There is nothing wrong with the practice as long as the need for the research or study can be justified as beneficial for human or animals’ health, as long as the animals used are cared for and adequately provided for in the process, and as long as the researchers adhere to the applicable laws and regulations related to the use of animals for scientific purposes.
Was your opinion affected by the readings for this assignment?
Although I understand where the argument of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA is coming from, based on readings for this assignment, my opinion about the use of animals for research remains the same. To some extent and as the needs arise, animal testing should still be allowed as long as it is proven to be essential for the improvement of both humans’ and animals’ physical well-being.
Under what circumstances, or for which types of research projects, would you advocate the use of animals in research?
I would advocate the use of animals in researches that are proven to be helpful in the understanding of a fatal health condition or the development of treatments for diseases/illnesses that pose great health risk to a significant number of people. For instance, two of the leading causes of death according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (2013) are heart disease and cancers. The Office of Media Relations (2008) of the University of California, Los Angeles or UCLA reports that studies utilizing mice helped in the clinical trials that led to the formation of Herceptin, a breast cancer-fighting drug. Aside from this, researchers in the university are developing a heart valve for children with congenital heart disease, and they are testing it on pigs because these animals and the humans have circulatory systems that closely resemble each other (UCLA, 2008). In cases like these, where patients suffering from the two of the leadings causes of death may potentially be cured and be freed from suffering, I would highly advocate for the use of animal testing.
Do you think the use of advanced technology, such as fMRI, will eventually make animal testing obsolete?
I don’t think the use of advanced technology, like fMRI, can eventually make animal testing obsolete, but it can probably help minimize the use of animal testing. For instance, PETA (n.d.) lists In Vitro testing and computer modeling as alternatives to animal testing. However, these don’t really show how a treatment or new drug would affect a living body. The AnimalResearch.Info explains it best by saying that “animals are used in research when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole, living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts.”
What safeguards do you think would be needed in order to protect participants in studies using neuroimaging methods?
Based on the readings and my research, there is generally no known physical health risks associated in the participation of studies involving neuroimaging methods. Bernat and Beresford (2013) further confirm that imaging techniques, like MRI, are benign and not risky. However, there are associated ethical issues in the process. For instance, when researchers encounter incidental findings, findings relating to an abnormality or health issue of the research participants that are not part of the scope of the research, issues arise about how to handle the situation (Leung, 2013). To protect the interest of the participants in studies using neuroimaging methods, there must be a clear agreement on how to handle every possible situation that may occur during the study. For example, the participants and the researchers may agree that when incidental findings arise, the participant must be informed immediately and may opt to be excluded from the study when the need for further diagnosis or treatment is deemed necessary.
AnimalResearch.Info. (n.d.). Why Animals are Used. Retrieved from http://www.animalresearch.info/en/designing-research/why-animals-are-used/
Bernat, J.L., & Beresford, R. (2013). Handbook of Clinical Neurology. Amsterdam, NX: Elsevier B.V.
Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. (2013). Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
Leung, L. (2013). Incidental Findings in Neuroimaging: Ethical and Medicolegal Considerations. NeuroScience Journal, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/439145
Office of Media Relations. (2008, February 13). Animal research generates new treatments, benefits society. UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved from http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/animal-generates-new-treatments-45057
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA]. (n.d.). Alternatives to Animal Testing. Retrieved from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-animal-testing/