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International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

Alternatives To Animal Experiments Research Testing

12: Page 12

Another example is the discovery of drugs to suppress the body's natural defense mechanisms, a key factor in the development of organ transplantation. Apart from cyclosporin, the main drugs used in transplant surgery (the antipurines and the corticosteroids) are also anticancer agents whose notorious side effect is to suppress the immune system.28 Indeed, most of the commonly used anticancer drugs were subsequently found to be immunosuppressive.(29)

Anesthesia and Self-Experimentation History

One of the most important advances in medical history was the discovery of anesthetics. In fact, patients waiting for the 'terrifying ordeal of surgery in pre-anesthetic days would no doubt say it was the most important! Perhaps more than any other field, the development of both general and local anesthetics owes an enormous debt to the physicians and scientists who experimented on themselves.

In 1800, Humphrey Davy inhaled nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," and noted that it eased the pain of an inflamed gum. He suggested its use in surgical operations but inhaling laughing gas was a kind of parlour game and the proposal was ignored. By the 1840s "ether frolics" and laughing gas parties were popular entertainments and it was his experience while inhaling ether that first prompted Dr Crawford Long to suggest its use during surgical operations.(30)

After inhaling ether, Long observed that neither he nor his colleagues had any recollection of what would normally have been painful experiences. In 1842, Long put his theory to the test and successfully removed a tumor from the neck of a friend.(31) There was no pain. In 1844, Horace Wells, a dental surgeon, persuaded one colleague to give him nitrous oxide while another extracted a tooth.

 

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