Animals in Labs

Guinea pigs, rabbits, monkeys, cats, dogs, and smaller lives like mice, rats, frogs, fish, snakes and even insects are subjected to unimaginable agony and pain... the suffering animals undergo in laboratories is probably the worst that man inflicts upon animals. Torturing innocent creatures for so-called human benefit have made people across the globe strongly object.

In response to protests by animal rights activists in 2012 Air India stopped ferrying animals to laboratories on all its national and international flights. The other airlines that decline transporting animals such as rabbits, rodents, dogs, cats, primates and others destined for laboratories are Air Lingus, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathy Pacific, Qantas, China Southern Airlines, United and Qatar Airways. In addition there is a growing long list of airlines that do not fly monkeys and other primates for laboratories or their suppliers. By 2020 several pro-animal testing groups tried pressuring airlines but the airlines stood firm citing ethical reasons. The National Association of Biomedical Research (USA) even submitted a formal complaint to the US Department of Transport also.


Vivisection


Most organisations working for animals continue to be taken for a ride by the hypocritical researchers and vivisectionists’ community who have pledged to implement the “three Rs” of Refinement, Reduction and Replacement.


Vivisectionists have, however, quietly added Recycling, the fourth R. The same animal is used for more than one experiment. This cuts costs of breeding, feeding and care and is called “optimal experimental planning” – and increases the torture the animal is subjected to.

 

The number of animals used in laboratories in the Western world are said to be decreasing due to the use of alternative methods. In actuality, the number is not decreasing because many experiments have been shifted to places where animal protection legislation is either non-existent or weaker, e.g. Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Mice are the most used animals for medical tests because vivisectionists claim that they react like humans, but it is ironical that the cleanliness maintained in laboratories results in inaccurate mice reactions.

Each year half a million horseshoe crabs are captured, bled alive – and released but they are never the same healthy creatures again – for a chemical that can detect bacterial presence. If there is bacterial contamination then coagulation does not occur and the solution is considered free of bacteria. The test is called LAL and since every drug certified by the FDA must be tested using LAL, all American pharmaceutical companies use horseshoe crabs. Cruel – 18% of the bled crabs tracked died and others suffered and females were less likely to mate.

In a court case seeking personhood for chimpanzees filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project in USA, it was stated that two primates were “unlawfully detained” at the State University of New York as they were “autonomous beings, who were self-aware and self-directed”. In April 2015 the udge recognised the chimps as legal persons and granted them writ of habeas corpus. Hopefully this will spur similar cases on behalf of elephants, dolphins, whales and other intelligent animals.


Alternative Experiments


The fact that alternative methods do not reduce the number of laboratory animals used is demonstrated by the university district of Zurich where – contrary to the industrial district of Basle – animal experiments can not be transferred to affiliates and partner companies abroad. Thus between 1989 and 2010, the number of laboratory animals used each year in Zurich did not decrease, but increased 95%.

The researchers who develop alternative methods consider animal experiments useful and necessary. Consequently, they work for the most part with cells, tissues and organs obtained from animals killed in laboratories or slaughterhouses, and repeat, for years, the very animal experiments their alternative methods are supposed to replace, to compare them to the alternative methods.

In short, animal experiments are neither reduced, nor replaced, but perpetuated by alternative methods used as a control. Although anti-animal, such methods are ironically financed by misguided animal protection organisations.

Biomedical research based on vivisection is deceptive and misleading, and promoting alternative methods is largely to blame for continued suffering of lab animals.

Instead of truly scientific methods like human cell and tissue cultures and clinical investigations of human patients, alternative methods are based on animal cell, tissue cultures and computer models making them as worthless as the experiments that use animals.

For the validation of alternative methods – a process which takes years, if ever, to complete – researchers compare not only the data from their alternative methods with data from animal experiments, but also repeat the very animal experiments their alternative methods are supposed to replace in order to obtain additional data for the purpose of further comparisons.


New Drugs


In August 2015 the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) decided that “repeat animal testing” was not required for permission for a new drug or clinical trial. Some months later the Ministry of Health (Government of India) amended Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, which states that animals will be spared the cruel tests for new drug registrations where complete data from similar toxicity experiments already exists for drugs approved abroad.


India is a signatory to an international agreement on “mutual acceptance of data” we are obliged to accept the results of such animal testing conducted in other countries and there is no need for the tests to be repeated here. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “test data generated in any member country in accordance with OECD test guidelines and principles of good laboratory practice shall be accepted in other member countries.”


Moreover, the Investigating New Drugs committee has in keeping with international trends and practices recommended the use of alternative methods to animal tests. Despite this, in 2017 the Patanjali Research Institute decided to test its medicines on rats and rabbits in the hope that Ayurveda will get recognition in the world of medicine, and unfortunately the Committee for the Purpose of Controlling and Supervising Experiments (CPCSEA) and Animal Ethical Committee gave them permission to do so.

It is very sad that the CPCSEA approve experiments on animals. 12,000 experiments on Beagles (dogs) were approved by them between 2007 and 2011. Of these at least 4,000 dogs were procured for experiments and at least 3,000 either died or were euthanized.

Experiments (read torture) on Beagles have been undertaken for the following reasons:
65% for toxicity study
11% for dose assessment
10% for tests
9% for pharmakoinetic study
5% for bioequivalence study

After the dogs are no longer needed (old or infirm), a very tiny percentage are handed over to animal welfare societies for adoption.

In November 2020 the Department of Radio Diagnosis and Imaging at the PGI Chandigarh installed a Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA) facility dedicated for basic (cruel) research on animals. The facility will initially test (read inflict pain, suffering and eventual death) new drugs and hardware that can potentially be used for treatment of human disorders, by evaluation of vessels inside laboratory animal organs like brain, liver, kidneys, etc.


Xenotransplantation


Whereas allotransplantation is the taking of living organs (cells, tissues, etc.) within the same species as in organ donations from human to human, xenotransplantation means taking a living organ from one species and transplanting it into another, like from pigs to humans or baboons to humans.


The history of xenotransplantation as documented:
17th Century: Jean Baptiste Denis began transfusing blood from animals to humans
1838: The first corneal xenotransplantation from a pig took place – 65 years prior to the first human to human cornea transplant.
19th Century: Skin grafts, mainly from frogs, from animals were used on humans in Europe.
1920s: Serge Voronoff, a Russian scientist began testicular transplants from chimpanzees to aging men but his work was later discredited.
1963: Keith Reemtsma, a US doctor, transplanted chimpanzee kidneys into 13 humans. All failed between 4 to 8 weeks except for one who lived for 9 months.
1964: James Hardy, a US surgeon transplanted a Chimpanzee’s heart into a human but the patient died in 2 hours.
1983: Leonard Bailey of the US transplanted a baboon heart in an infant called Baby Fae who survived for 20 days only. (See below.)
1992: Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing fit heart valves made from ox tissue (designed by Dr Baruah) into human patients.
1997: Dr Dhani Ram Baruah of Sonapur, near Guwahati illegally transplanted a pig heart into a human. The recipient survived for a week only.

Both Dr Ho and Baruah were arrested.

2022: Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, USA, transplanted a pig heart into a patient citing organ shortage crisis due to the pandemic.


Now pig heart valves are routinely transplanted into human patients. However, since bovine organs are too big to transplant in humans, tissues have been used to repair cardiac defects and reconstruct heart valves. In this way, cow body parts have for decades been transplanted in humans abroad and in India too – in July 2015 at Chennai an 81-year old Hyderabad woman’s leaking heart valve was replaced with a bioprosthetic heart valve made from a cow’s heart tissues.

It all began with using pig skin for extensive burns, and went on to transplanting the heart of a baboon in a child known as Baby Fae (mentioned above) who did not survive because the baboon and she were of different blood groups. (If there was even a shred of ethics in those who undertook this experiment, they would have checked the blood groups before killing the baboon and ruled against the transplant.) Luckily for baboons they very rarely have the universal blood group O so the possibility of using their body-parts has dropped.


Few know that in 2009 six persons were arrested in a fake blood racket – animal blood was mixed with that of humans – in Lucknow which had been going on since 2005 under the seal of a medical college.


In 2016 the National Institute of Health, USA, proposed a new policy which would allow researchers to receive federal funds to make part human, part animal embryos. In effect crossbreeding of humans and animals could be undertaken although not approved as such!


The first human-pig embryo was grown in a laboratory in 2016. Scientists of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California announced that they had created human-pig hybrids. The pig embryos were injected with human stem cells and implanted into sows and left to grow. Of 2,075 embryos, only 186 developed to the 28 day stage. In other words biologists grew human stem cells in a pig’s embryo. The approach involved generating stem cells from a patient’s skin for growing the desired new organ in a pig and then harvesting it for transplant into the patient’s body, and since the organ would be of the patient’s own cells there would be little risk of immune rejection. Creatures composed of two different genomes as in this case of human-organ-growing pigs, are called chimeras.


Another group of scientists from Sanford University showed that a mouse pancreas grown this way in a rat, which then had parts of it transplanted into a mouse genetically identical to the one that supplied the stem cells employed, could control diabetes in that mouse, thus creating a working, transplantable organ. The group followed up their mouse work by growing human pancreas cells in pig fetuses. Similarly scientists from the University of California have managed the same in sheep.


Pigs are being exploited the most. After editing their genes (eliminating porcine endogenous retroviruses abbreviated as PERVs) they will be specially bred for xenotransplantation. So GM kicks in. In 2017 researchers at Harward via gene-editing followed by cloning of these edited cells, created piglets cleansed of viruses that cause disease in humans. But cloning fails often: in this instance they created 30 piglets (i.e. 8 litters of PERV-free piglets) of which most of the embryos and fetuses died before birth, whereas some died soon after they were born. Few survived 4½ months said to be the ideal age to “harvest” their organs for xenotransplantation. Thus the scientists hope that one day they will make it possible to easily grow and transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans.


At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, a panel of researcher came up with the following procedure: “Take the fertilised egg of a pig. From each cell in the resulting embryo cut out a gene or genes that promote the development of the animal’s heart. Inject human stem cells from a patient who needs a new heart into the embryo and then place it into the womb of a sow. Wait nine months. The result is an adult pig with a heart made of human cells. The pig can be slaughtered and the heart transplanted into the patient who provided the stem cells, for whom the organ will be a genetic match.” Moreover they feel that sheep and cows can also host human organs and since the animals are already raised for their flesh and skin, their use to grow more valuable things should meet with no objection beyond squeamishness.


In fact, since April 2015 pig corneas are being used in China under the brand name of Acornea. Initial trials were conducted using tissue from chickens, cows, ducks, geese, monkeys and sheep, but pig tissue was favoured because bio-mechanical properties of human and pig corneas are very similar.


In 2016 South Korean researchers of the National Institute of Animal Science reported they had successfully installed a pig’s heart in a monkey. The crab-eating macaque was also given a cornea from the pig’s eye. The pig had been genetically engineered in 2010 to produce an excessive amount of a membrane protein that helps reduce the risk of the organ being rejected after transplantation.


In 2017 a “synthetic soft-tissue retina” was developed by researchers at the Oxford University. It consisted on water droplets (hydrogels) and biological cell membrane proteins (presumably of animal origin). It was due to be tested on animals.


In January 2019 it was reported that at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Chinese Academy of Sciences 5 multiple clones from a gene-edited monkey for biomedical research were born and that they had been induced with human diseases like sleep disorder, mental problems, depression, anxiety and behaviour linked to Schizophrenia. A month later, following the gene-editing uproar, China drafted new rules to supervise biotechnology research that included fines and bans against rogue scientists.


Despite this, in July 2019 China produced its first cloned cat. $35,000/- was paid by the owner who ordered it. Duplicating a dog costs around $ 53,000/-. The animal looks the same, but would the soul be the same? In any case, it is totally unethical.


Around the same time British scientists used CRISPR technology to develop gene-edited chickens designed to be totally resistant to flu. The transgenic chicks will be hatched later in 2019 at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. (Roslin Institute was responsible for creating the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep.)


In August 2019, the 87 years old Sir Terence English who had performed the first heart transplant in the UK in 1979 declared that his team would this year transplant a pig’s kidney into a human’s body.


In January 2022 Dr Bartley Griffith the lead surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, USA, transplanted a pig heart into a patient citing organ shortage crisis due to the pandemic.


The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines only permit transplants between animals, not xenotransplantation. BWC hopes the Congress of the Asian Society of Transplantation will not recommend xenotransplantation upon discussing it at their conference in New Delhi in September 2019.


Who all does Man playing God benefit? Scientists, researchers, drug companies, hospitals, health care, media, and so on – all financially gain with business and fame as a bonus. The donor (animal) is killed. The donee (human) suffers and eventually dies.


BWC strongly opposes killing animals for their body parts because their lives are as sacred as human lives.


Humane Heart Tissue and other Transplants


Researchers at Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute are developing a method to use the vascular network in spinach leaves to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to grow human tissue.


In 2017 Chinese doctors grew in three months a new ear on a man’s arm and successfully transplanted it. The plastic surgeon Guo Shuzhong of the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University and his team first stretched the man’s skin on his arm with a skin expander. Then they took a piece of cartilage from one side of his chest to carve out a new ear before planting the artificial organ on the patient’s forearm.


Ban on Export of Monkeys from India


BWC’s first major achievement in India was in 1977 when the Rt Hon Muriel, Lady Dowding, founder of Beauty Without Cruelty, met our then Prime Minister, Shri Morarji Desai in New Delhi and requested him to ban the export of monkeys as they were being subjected to intense cruelty in foreign laboratories.

(The International Primate League, USA, the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Blue Cross from Madras falsely claimed credit for having achieved this ban. It was only after the ban had been announced, the IPPL wrote to the PM asking him to confirm having banned the export and on that basis they released a number of articles! No doubt they, and the other two, had also created an awareness of the issue over years, and had even appealed to the government earlier, but it was solely because of BWC’s appeal in 1977 by Lady Dowding, immediately followed up personally by Diana Ratnagar, that the ban materialised.)


Killing by Zoologists


Almost every one condemns animals being used in labs for testing products and so-called research, but what about the zoologists who collect animals from the wild, even threatened species, to study them? How can their killing be justified?


Over two decades, 222 studies mentioned the collection of 7,482 bats of 376 species from India, China and South East Asia and South America. The research mostly aimed to compile checklists or establish geographic ranges.


Teaching Dissection


During the 1980s BWC was one of the first organisations that took up the issue of dissection in educational institutions succeeding in it being made optional for students to refuse to dissect animals in Gujarat’s schools.  


Later, also in response to a petition supported by BWC and other organisations a May 1997 Delhi High Court judgement ruled that school students have the right to choose whether or not to dissect living creatures.


In 2012 the CPCSEA under the Ministry of Environment & Forests, issued guidelines to the University Grants Commission, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Pharmacy Council of India and the Medical Council of India, to discontinue dissection and experiments on live animals in all universities, colleges, research institutions, hospitals and laboratories.

Better late than never, two years later in 2014:


The University Grants Commission banned animal dissection and experimentation for training purposes in university and college zoology and life sciences courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


The Medical Council of India wanted undergraduate students to be taught using non-animal methods.


The Pharmacy Council decided to ban electrocuting animals, burning their feet, inducing convulsions, etc. in particular courses.


Learning without Animals


In 1998, Beauty Without Cruelty and the Chennai based Blue Cross of India donated “Compu-Programme” sets to 170 State Government-run schools and 17 Municipal Corporation schools in Tamil Nadu. 

 

Good virtual dissection learning software programmes are continuously being developed. They teach students without cutting up living animals or carcasses of those animals that have been killed for the purpose.


BWC has plans to fund some FROGUTS programmes being introduced as humane learning software in some educational institutions of India by PETA.

Meanwhile, articles have been appearing on simulator rubber and plastic dummies that feel and act like human bodies, like those used in Hollywood films. Such dummies are now being made by the very same people for the Massachusetts General Hospital, USA, and used to train their medical students. In November 2015, at its annual Global Paediatric Innovation Summit, Boston Children’s Hospital unveiled two new simulators. One had the real feel of a newborn’s skin, muscle and pulsing veins that will be used to simulate a heart-lung-bypass; the other, allows doctors to practice adding a drain to a brain overwhelmed with fluid. Underneath these mannequins’ silicone-covered torsos and necks were hand-sculpted and moulded muscles and blood vessels filled with mock blood. Both institutions sell their simulators and educational programmes to hospitals in different parts of the world.


New Technologies


In October 2019 India decided to explore using new technologies such as organs-on-a-chip, disease-in-a-dish and organoids (lab-grown versions of human tissues) to replace animals in research.


However, some still felt that drug toxicity and efficacy tests needed animals because alternative technologies would require a substantial and costly overhaul of the drug-approval process since it was mandatory for all medicines to be tested on rodents, primates or dogs. Nevertheless, computer models that simulate drug toxicity are known to be cost-effective and humane. On the other hand, a pharmacokinetics researcher of the Central Drug Research Institute (Lucknow) thought toxicity studies in a small number of consenting patients should replace animal studies.


Interestingly, even after over 20 years of drug-discovery research utilising animals, not a single new drug had come out in India. This was because molecules that were safe and efficacious in animals were later found to be toxic or ineffective in humans.

In July 2020 the IPC (Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission) deleted the ATT (animal toxicity test) for 33 human vaccines although WHO had deleted this test much earlier in November 2018. It had been developed in the 1950s to detect external contaminants in vaccines and despite growing evidence against its reliability and the needless torture of countless animals, the obsolete test was used.


Vaccines


Refusing to be vaccinated started way back in the early 1800s when the smallpox vaccine was introduced steadily leading to a growing number of exemptions on religious or personal belief grounds to be granted for over 200 years. Criticism and objections continue to be based on religious, moral, ideological, philosophical and safety reasons with many people thinking that the risks far outweigh the benefits because they can cause other health problems. Furthermore, the conviction that health and disease should not be controlled by vaccination and diseases are better dealt with by other means, or that governments should not coerce citizens into receiving medical interventions, has made people refuse to be vaccinated.

For example, cell lines WI-38 (1962) and MRC-5 (1966) used in vaccines originate from lung tissue of aborted male human foetuses; and HEK-293 (1973) is from embryonic kidney cells of a female human foetus. A-549 (1972) is from cancerous lung tissue of a 58 year old man. For decades WI-38 has being used for vaccines such as poliomyelitis, MRR (measles, mumps, rubella) varicella (chicken pox), herpes zoster adenovirus, rabies and hepatitis A, whereas MRC-5 for varicella, shingles and MMR vaccines.

Towards the end of 2020 a growing number of persons worldwide, citing health, morality and ethics, wanted the “promising vaccine” against coronavirus to be forbidden because it was actually genetic manipulation: experimental technology of Messenger RNA or mRNA vaccine symptoms they were sure would result in an incurable genetic defect and damage which would be irreversible and irreparable. (RNA or Riboucleic acid is a single-stranded molecule similar to DNA or Deoxyribonucleic acid that carries genetic instructions in all living beings.) Furthermore, despite WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring “most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment” to develop and promote a vaccine that causes genetic manipulation can only be termed as shockingly unfair towards humanity.

Whether in favour of or against vaccination, those vegans and vegetarians who are strict in their cultural beliefs, religion or ideology need to be aware that the vaccines are made by using animal cell lines, that they are tested on live animals – and undergo clinical trails on human “guinea pigs”.

How vaccines work: A conventional vaccine injected into the body inserts select pieces of a virus in cells near the injection site. The body’s immune system recognizes molecules on these pieces called antigens, as threats and reacts by making antibodies that can locate the virus anywhere in the body and neutralize it. Once this dress rehearsal happens, the body’s immune system remembers how to squash such invaders, and can stop similar future infection.

How vaccines are made:
Step I:
The first step is the generation of an antigen required to be used in an immune response. For viral vaccines this process begins with small amount of specific virus that can be grown in animal cell lines for which various cell types may be used, such as cells from chicken embryos, cows, pigs, sheep or monkeys. These animal derived cells which that are obtained upon slaughter are cultured in cattle serum which is extensively used since it is very rich in growth factors. It is extracted by puncturing the heart of the new-born calf within 3 to 10 days of its birth. (Between April and June 2020, India imported approximately Rs 1.5 crore worth of cattle serum products. To obtain this pregnant cows are slaughtered and blood for deriving serum is collected from their foetuses.)
Step II
The second step is to release the antigen from the animal cells on which the viruses are being propagated and isolate it from the material used in its growth medium. The goal here is to recover as much antigen as possible.
Step III
The third step involves purification of the antigen. In this stage the antigens gets inactivated. They are then collected, purified and stored for use in vaccinations.
Step IV
The fourth step involves the addition of an adjuvant used to improve the immune response of the purified antigen. Different animals are killed to obtain adjuvants, particularly sharks. Squalene or shark liver oil is currently used in large quantities as an adjuvant worldwide since it also increases the shelf life of most vaccines.

Testing: Not only is the killing of various animals involved in developing vaccines and for their commercial production which is based on animal derived substances (adjuvants), but it also involves testing in lab cultures and on innocent animals such as mice to check if it is too toxic and if it prompts the immune system’s cells to produce antibodies that will identify and attach to the virus. Tests then proceed as clinical trials on humans (10-100 in phase 1, 100s in Phase 2 and 10,000s in Phase 3) to prove there are no bad or serious side effects, check if the immune system produces antibodies and the response is strong, if the dosage is correct, and if it safely prevents infection and disease across a large number of people. If at any stage of testing, results are unsatisfactory, the particular vaccine is abandoned or dumped.

A latrogenic or adverse reaction can be caused by multiple compounds interacting with each other. Those with compromised immune systems and allergies have experienced reactions.


Animals used for Testing Cosmetics, etc.


Why are finished products tested on animals by manufacturers? To safeguard themselves – if a consumer is adversely affected after having used a product and sues the company, the company produces the test results, thus legally safeguarding from claims made.


The fact remains that mice and not men and products that may have given no adverse effects to animals (during testing) do not necessarily react the same way on humans – in fact, effects of products vary from human to human.


In India it was first optional for manufacturers to batch-test cosmetics, hair dyes and other beauty and toilet preparations on animals. Then in 2014, the Government totally banned testing of cosmetics on animals. This was followed by a ban on importing cosmetics that had been tested on animals abroad.


In fact, having realised that results of tests performed on animals are never consistent or accurate and can be misleading, thousands of companies worldwide have since long been using non-animal tests to comply for safety of their products. Legislative bills to ban testing cosmetics and their ingredients on animals have been introduced in several countries, whereas a complete ban on animal testing for cosmetics got implemented in the EU in March 2013.


BWC hopes it won’t be long before India, like Israel, also bans testing all other consumer products on animals.


The Leaping Bunny Logo


Beauty Without Cruelty was one of the international animal protection groups that founded the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) reflecting the corporate standard for compassion for animals. The CCIC leaping bunny logo, considered a highly meaningful label, made its international debut on personal care and cleaning products in 1998. The label is licensed to companies who pledge that their finished products are not tested on animals and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct or commission animal testing on their cosmetic, personal hygiene or household products after the date of the agreement.


Note: The leaping bunny logo does not indicate the absence of animal ingredients in products.


Caution: Products not tested on animals are often marketed as ‘Cruelty-Free’. This wording is absolutely misleading unless the product carries the green veg symbol as well – animal ingredients are a result of killing so how can the products be free of cruelty?


Beware: Policy statements such as ‘Against Animal Testing’ do not confirm the product has not been tested on animals.

Page last updated on 15/01/22