International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

Human Tissue - Alternative to Animal Testing Experiments

7: The AIDS virus

Click to Enlarge: The AIDS virus The AIDS virus disrupts growth of the T4 Iymphocyte, a cell crucial in regulating the body's defense mechanism. The beneficial effects of new drugs are therefore easily assessed by adding them to test tube cultures of the T-cells to see if they prevent damage caused by the virus.(16)

Researchers argue that sufficient in vitro techniques exist so that almost any useful drug effect can be predicted without using living animals.(17) Such tests utilize cells, tissues and enzymes from the body and while in many cases these originate from animals, the potential exists for human material to be used instead. For instance, a variety of in vitro tests can be used to detect new immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. But while some of these tests do indeed employ human cells (human blood Iymphocytes in this case), others still rely on tissue from animals.(18)

A further aspect of drug research is pharmacology where scientists study exactly how drugs and naturally occurring body substances exert their effects on the tissues. An understanding of the chemical processes involved can be valuable in providing a more rational basis for the design of new drug treatments. Traditionally, pharmacologists have relied mainly on animals despite numerous contradictory results. Acetylcholine, a chemical released by nerve endings, produces entirely the opposite effect in animals: according to experiments with dogs, acetylcholine was widely believed to dilate coronary arteries, but in human coronary tissue it actually caused a narrowing of the vessels which is thought to result in heart spasm in a living person.(19)

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