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Research Article

The Strengths and Limits of Animal Models as Illustrated by the Discovery and Development of Antibacterials

Ray Greek1* and Lawrence A Hansen2
1Americans for Medical Advancement, California, USA
2University of California, San Diego, USA
*Corresponding Author : Ray Greek
Americans for Medical Advancement (AFMA)
2251 Refugio Rd. Goleta, California, USA
Tel: 805-685-6812
E-mail: [email protected]
Received March 28, 2013; Accepted April 25, 2013; Published April 25, 2013
Citation: Greek R, Hansen LA (2013) The Strengths and Limits of Animal Models as Illustrated by the Discovery and Development of Antibacterials. Biol Syst 2:109. doi:10.4172/BSO.1000109
Copyright: © 2013 Greek R, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

While the use of sentient animals in biomedical research is known to be ethically contentious, the fact that scientific issues surround the practice is typically ignored. The justification for using sentient animals in research relies on the alleviation of human suffering that purportedly results from such studies and that such breakthroughs cannot occur without studying whole, intact, biological systems. As all biological systems are examples of evolved complex systems, we question the ability of one evolved complex system to predict outcomes for a second. A classic claim regarding the advances in medical care arising from the use of intact sentient animals in research is the discovery and development of antibacterial agents. We give a brief overview of infectious disease research in the 19th century, then examine the history of antibacterials in the first half of the 20th century. We focus on the use of intact sentient animals to test antibacterials for efficacy and side effects-which is also the primary use of animal models in drug development today. As the development of antibacterials is frequently cited as an illustration of the necessity of using intact animal models in drug development, we also examine the impact this position has had on drug development in general. The development of antibacterials, and drugs in general, is placed in the context of evolution, complexity science, and conserved processes. We conclude that the commonly related history revolving around the necessity of intact animal models in the development of antibacterials is not entirely accurate and that this finding has ethical, financial, legal, medical, and scientific ramifications.

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