Even if successful, brain tissue transplants are unlikely to produce a cure because they fail to tackle the problems which lead to neurological illness. As Raymond Bartens of the New York University Medical Center has pointed out, “brain tissue transplants will not likely affect the pathogenesis of the disease, but can be expected to merely reduce a portion of the symptoms. In fact, given that the etiologic factor(s) is still likely to be present, a relapse might be considered the more likely possibility.”31
By finding and tackling the causes of Parkinson’s disease, the incidence is likely to fall, so leading to real improvements in health. The same principle applies to all disease.
Despite the failure of animal experiments to improve our overall health, the pro-vivisection lobby persists in claiming there is no alternative to most animal experiments. Yet it should be common sense that more can be expected from methods of direct relevance to people, such as epidemiology, clinical studies with patients, work with healthy volunteers and test tube studies with human tissue. Even in areas which have come to rely on vivisection, stopping animal experiments would not halt research because experience shows that scientists quickly devise new techniques to achieve their objectives. Britain’s former prohibition on the use of animals to practice microsurgery led to the development of the normally discarded human placenta as a viable substitute.32 In yellow fever research, the lack of an animal model prompted volunteer studies which identified the disease’s mode of transmission and led to successful eradication campaigns.33 Another example is the testing of vaccines for potency, an area in which animal experiments have traditionally been considered essential. However, such an approach is of no value in assessing pneumonia vaccines because the causal organisms are generally not virulent for laboratory animals. Once again the lack of an animal model provided the incentive to develop a successful alternative, this time based on chemical analysis and
studies with human volunteers.34
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