Medical research isn’t an easy thing to do. Researchers have to study the causes and effects of a condition, develop a drug, test it, and only then can they start making them. And almost every stage of that research pipeline involves animals in a lab setting.
An estimated 26 million animals are used every year for scientific and commercial testing in just the US alone.
That’s because the ones used for testing share a remarkable amount of similarities with us, like mice and monkeys. They also suffer from similar health conditions and, since they have shorter lifespans, researchers can monitor a disease through their whole lives and across generations.
And over the years, they’ve contributed to a number of medical breakthroughs. Let’s leave aside the fact that countries mandate that human testing be carried out only after successful animal trials, usually multiple phases of them. After all, you don’t want people dying in the name of science right? More importantly, though, we don’t have any other effective way to study diseases and ways to treat them.
We have as yet to come up with an artificial system that can closely resemble the complex, whole-organ, system that is the human body. Though we can to some extent replicate individual parts, it’s not enough to know a drug or treatment just does its job.
The only way we can stop animal testing permanently is if we advance enough in creating artificial biology. Perhaps then one day we could simply grow an interconnected set of biological systems in a lab to test our drugs.