The Ethical Implications for Humans in Light of the Poor Predictive Value of Animal Models

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The notion that animals could be used as predictive models in science has been influenced by relatively recent developments in the fields of complexity science, evolutionary and developmental biology, genetics, and evolutionary biology in general. Combined with empirical evidence, which has led scientists in drug development to acknowledge that a new, nonanimal model is needed, a theory—not a hypothesis—has been formed to explain why animals function well as models for humans at lower levels of organization but are unable to predict outcomes at higher levels of organization. Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT) places the empirical evidence in the context of a scientific theory and thus, from a scientific perspective, the issue of where animals can and cannot be used in science has arguably been settled. Yet, some in various areas of science or science-related fields continue to demand that more evidence be offered before the use of animal models in medical research and testing be abandoned on scientific grounds. In this article, I examine TSMT, the empirical evidence surrounding the use of animal models, and the opinions of experts. I contrast these facts with the opinions and positions of those that have a direct or indirect vested interest—financial or otherwise—in animal models. I then discuss the ethical implications regarding research constructed to find cures and treatments for humans.

Cite this paper

Greek, R. (2014) The Ethical Implications for Humans in Light of the Poor Predictive Value of Animal Models. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 5, 966-1005. doi: 10.4236/ijcm.2014.516129.


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