We have created a system that teaches that non-human animals are instruments and ornaments, both unfeeling and expendable — a system that desensitizes children and young adults to the sanctity of life.
All models are wrong — but some models are less wrong than others. At the interface of tissue engineering and microfluidic technology, tumor-on-chip systems offer tantalizing possibilities of unraveling human tumor biology and drug responses, while minimizing the time, cost, and ethical concerns of animal research.
In biomedical research, questions of animal ethics usually pertain to the use of whole animals to model disease and test pharmaceutical efficacy. In truth, the problem extends far beyond this. The global antibody industry, which today relies heavily on animals, is worth $80 billion. As well as contributing unnecessarily to animal suffering, this is an industry polluted by poor quality antibodies, leading to scientific inconsistency, confusion, money-wasting and meaningless results. Regardless of whether animal ethics are high on your agenda, the need for an antibody revolution today is undeniable. This is an issue that Animal-Friendly Affinity Reagents – a high quality and cost-effective alternative to animal antibodies – might help to address.
Immunotherapy has enormous potential to provide cancer patients with a treatment which is more personalised, more precise, and more effective than current therapies, but evidently its promises will only come to fruition with the assistance of improved predictive algorithms and bioinformatics tools. Recent explosions in publicly available cancer genomic data, coupled with advancements in machine learning methods is ensuring that the marriage of computation and biology will help to address challenges facing immunotherapy in the coming decade. Here we will take a look at how scientists are starting to implement artificial intelligence methods to predict neoepitopes for cancer vaccine development.
This is a story of mice and men. It is not a happy story – not for us, and not for them. It is estimated that about 115 million animals are used annually in biomedical research and drug testing around the world. Is this justified? Many of the diseases which are studied using animal models do not even naturally occur in animals. Owing to inherent genetic differences, the ability of animal models to predict human drug responses is tenuous at best.
Why is it that we recoil with visceral disgust when we see a man kicking a dog in the street, but not when we see a man in a clean white coat injecting a toxic substance into a mouse, or even a beagle, in a clean white laboratory? Is humanity suffering from a case of moral schizophrenia?
“If cows were a country”, says Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, “they would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases”. Like slaughterhouses, greenhouse gases are invisible. This makes it easy for us to pretend that they don’t exist.
The epidemiological link between red meat and cancer is no longer debatable – what remains uncertain is how exactly this happens, and why the human species appears to be unique in its susceptibility.
Heart disease is the number one human killer, but most other members of the animal kingdom are much less susceptible to it than we are. What is it about other animals that has allows them to dodge this epidemic while we humans suffer? Linus Pauling thought Vitamin C was the answer; Robert Sapolsky has pinned the blame on stress. But what theory do you believe?
We have been handed a dying Earth – a mysterious object of concern. We look at it despairingly, not quite sure what to be concerned about, nor to what degree concern is required. We are full of information (and misinformation), yet we feel empty of knowledge, and this paralyses us. It is tempting to turn our eyes away and bury our heads as the planet burns – after all, humans have been doing it for years, as though it were a dream.
Why is it that we place such value on the sense of taste, above all other human senses? If the scream of a cow was to make the most beautiful sweet song, would you slaughter it to hear that music? If the blood of a horse could produce the most exquisite works of art, would you kill it to see those paintings? Many condemn the use of fur for clothing, while eagerly sporting leather and wool coats. Many criticise animal testing for cosmetics, while routinely purchasing meat, dairy and eggs for food. There is a murky disconnect in the way we humans think about and treat animals, and it needs to change.