International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

Human Tissue - Alternative to Animal Testing Experiments

17: Why is human tissue so little used?

Despite anticipated savings in the cost of animals and their housing, the use of human tissue is very much a neglected experimental resource. The reason usually cited is difficulty in obtaining regular supplies of human material.(23) Furthermore some tissues must be used quickly if they are to produce useful results. An example is cerebral blood vessels which must be used with 24 hours of death. Placenta also need to be collected quickly after childbirth and Soli Contractor of the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School notes that "one needs to establish a considerable rapport with the midwives and the clinical staff, without whose help and interest the work would not be possible."(55) Taking the time to develop good working contacts with surgeons and other hospital staff is surely worthwhile, bearing in mind the greater relevance of human tissue studies. By sacrificing accuracy for the greater "convenience" of animal experiments, scientists do medicine a disservice. In any case many human tissues can be successfully preserved by storage at very low temperatures.(23)

A greater willingness to leave parts of our bodies for medical research and a well organized system of tissue storage would leave experimenters little excuse for continued reliance on animals. Prof. Corwin Hansch, an expert in drug design, has stated,

"No laboratory animal will ever be a completely satisfactory substitute for the human system and the time will come when we shall stop wasting the enormously valuable enzymes and organelles of the dead and instead put these to use to understand the living human being better." (58)

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