Testing the limits of animal lab experiments

November 10, 2009

CHINAA mouse that can speak? A monkey with Down’s Syndrome? Dogs with human hands or feet? British scientists want to know if such experiments are acceptable, or if they go too far in the name of medical research.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a study to look at the use of animals containing human material in scientific research.

Using human material in animals is not new. Scientists have already created rhesus macaque monkeys that have a human form of the Huntingdon’s gene so they can investigate how the disease develops; and mice with livers made from human cells are being used to study the effects of new drugs.

But scientists say the technology to put ever greater amounts of human genetic material into animals is spreading quickly around the world — raising the possibility that some scientists in some places may want to push boundaries.

Religious groups are among those that are uneasy about the trend. One Catholic cardinal, Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh, has branded such work “Frankenstein science.”

Martin Bobrow, a professor of medical genetics at Cambridge University is chairman of a 14-member group looking into the issue.

He says: “Do most of us care if we make a mouse whose blood cells or liver are human? Probably not. But if it can speak? If it can think? Or if it is conscious in a human way? Then we’re in a completely different ballpark.”

What do you say?


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One way or another its going to be done if it hasn’t already secretly been done. While the idea does push some buttons wrongs in the intrest of science I say go for it

Posted by Liam | Report as abusive

Ridicully’s Law:

“For every experiment made through legitimate research, you can bet it was already done in secret first. No scientist risks his tenure on something unless he already knows it will work. God doesn’t play dice and neither does science”

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive


Posted by PERSON WITH A SOUL | Report as abusive

In the interest of science, do it. If it will lead to the cure for a number of diseases, who are we to say not do it. Remember that it wasn’t the dolphins or mice that advance the human race and created the cure for many diseases. It was the scientific research.

Posted by jim jones | Report as abusive

Our distorted image of whatever is good for humans at the cost of defenseless animals is cruel and barbaric.

Scientist that engage in these practices have no right to the “glory” associated with developing a cure for a human illness no matter the significance. Another way of saying that might be “the end justifies the means”.

If you have ever looked into the sad eyes of a Chimpanzee, or dog, or any other animal used for experimentation know there’s no justification for these acts. No more than terrorist who kill other people for whatever reason.

We need to correct the illusion that we are God of the animal kingdom. We are simply part of it.

Posted by Rights | Report as abusive

Other day I read something like ‘the cruelty IS human’, so true!

Posted by Noronha | Report as abusive

In the interest of science, do it dr. Mengele…it is cruel using animals.they dont have intelect that can suppose bad intentions and develop countermeasure.animals are just a reflections of life on planet,like us.we have to respect a life in general,life is not a mankind property.a proper response to nature will solve most of our problems and deseases.this experiments with animals dont offer apropriate results or are positive just few percent.experiment on animals which improves cure for most desease is mith.they are useful only for adding weight on researches which finally results in company profit.its inhumane killing for money.i dont see anything good in that.it is a shame.

Posted by sanjin | Report as abusive

“The ends justifies the means”.

Many people say that this concept is incorrect. Other people believe this concept is always correct. Both groups are wrong.

The reality is that whether the ends justifies the means depends on two things. The ends, and the means. Once you look at the result, you can see whether the means was justified.

Would you torture a rat to discover a new gene for your business?

What about to save a child? What about to save YOUR child? Save a hundred people? Discover a cure for cancer? Save the human race from extinction?

On the other hand, how many people would you condemn to death rather then allow an animal to die? What is the measure of a rat in human lives? Is a chimp worth more then a rat? Is a rat worth more then bacteria?

Is a vegan any less evil then a meat eater, just because they decided that the suffering of a plant is somehow less then an animal?

If a pacifist group brings an end to the Afganistan war, will that group be responsible for the deaths which result after that point?

Morality is never as cut and dry as people think. The rules of society have always represented what we are willing to accept, as a community. And sometimes, this doesn’t conform to extreme views.

So I suppose the saying should really be: “Depending on the ends, the means may or may not be justified”.

Which pretty much sums up humanity as a whole.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

most likely how swine flu got started.

Posted by braveheart | Report as abusive

it is not good to change what the lord has made, it will come back to bite you in the end.

Posted by braveheart | Report as abusive

I have always thought that sooner or later, someone would start making animals that could talk. Wrote a short story about even carrots getting consciousness at some distant point in the future. If the Polar Bears could talk right now, do you think they would be able to protect the arctic, or their own species? I believe that God does not reveal science because he wants us to ignore it; at the same time, humans have a history of not exactly being ‘humane’ to animals — we need to take these steps with a renewed emphasis on the ethical treatment of animals. Certainly, genetic manipulation is nothing next to any slaughter house on the planet — I mean can you imagine when the cows can talk, those cows are going to be plenty mad…

Posted by John Scott Ridgway | Report as abusive

It is interesting if you read the “Tags” to this article; animal rights, catholic, ethics, laboratory, religion, science, testing, vivisection….
Gene-ses 1.26
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Posted by kolla | Report as abusive

This article is simply alarmist. As long as genetic research funding continues to be contingent on the approval of ethical review boards, this will not be a problem. Even apart from the procedures already in place to prevent unethical research, the idea of engineering a mouse that can speak or think is absolutely absurd, an obvious fact to anyone who possesses a modicum of anatomical knowledge.
As for the animal rights zealots, there is a reason that that particular political phenomenon is limited to the economically privileged Western world. The realities of the immensity of global human suffering are lost on those raised in a culture in which they are not forced to encounter death and disease on a daily basis. Animals obviously should not be abused and experimented on for aesthetic or consumerist concerns, but in my opinion, there is simply no ethical weight to the idea that an animal’s “rights” outweigh the importance of medical research that can save human lives. Show me an animal species with a capacity for symbolic thought anywhere approaching humanity and I will gladly recant this position.

Posted by Evan Hunsley | Report as abusive

NO, NO, NO……..this is immoral, inhumane, unethical and against God Almighty. The Dr. Frankenstein’s of the world are real and will stop at nothing to achieve their agendas……….There is nothing new under the sun, but this must be stopped as the outcome will be horrific.

Posted by baglady | Report as abusive

Humans cruelty to animals and nature is profound.. If everything else is acceptable why not this??

The only real way to make progress on the morality of this debate is at it’s roots.
If it’s legal to kill, eat and enslave animals then where’s the debate going to go in terms of drawing the line between what’s ‘moral’ and what ‘immoral’.
Where do you even start??

But we all love eating them even though we’ve already proved meat is not necessary for survival..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

More importantly I don’t think people trust scientists morals in light of how easily the bright ones that should be working on renewable energy and curing diseases will sell out to the defense departments for more money.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive