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Thursday, 24th May

Lying on a cold table in an unfamiliar place and undergoing a core biopsy was probably one of the most traumatic events of my life. I was frightened, confused, hurting and, yes, I cried - but not just for myself. As I lay there, experiencing a needle digging around inside me and having small pieces of flesh cut from my body, I thought about the animals in laboratories who are subjected to similar experiences...

Despite this sound position, however, when someone is personally affected by serious illness it can be easy to cast such logic aside and hang on to any hope of survival - even (in some cases) at the expense of animals.

Following my diagnosis and subsequent surgery, I was scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. Knowing that enormous funding is pumped into cancer research each year, I conducted my own investigations and discovered that each of the drugs that I was to be given were discovered more than forty years ago - almost before I was born.

This didn’t make sense. Haven’t we all seen countless news headlines over the past few decades heralding cures of cancer (all based on animal trials)? Where was that miracle cure now that I needed it? And what have all the millions of animal lives lost and billions of dollars pumped into cancer research in the interim achieved? Here I am, being treated with the generation-old cut/poison/burn technique that’s been used for years - which is certainly not a cure!

Don’t get me wrong, no one could ever fault the aims of the millions of people and organisations across the world who willingly donate their money and time to cancer research.
But why can’t that research be better directed and money more efficiently spent so that we can obtain a cure without wasting more time and more lives (animal and human)?

The USA’s Federal Drug Administration (which guides Australian research) advises that 9 out of 10 drugs ‘successfully’ tested on animals don’t work when translated to humans. Some even cause significant harm to humans. At HRA, we argue this is because animals are genetically, metabolically and anatomically different. Logically, what else can we expect?
Frustratingly, I also ask myself now about all the thousands of drugs that were tested on animals but thrown out when they were found to be ‘unsuccessful’- surely if there was some hope of those drugs working in the first place to the extent they were good enough to be tested on animals, they were worth pursuing via other means? Could we have inadvertently discarded a potential cure for cancer?

Post surgery, and after many days and nights considering my choices, I eventually elected to proceed with the conventional course of treatment. Ultimately, what really convinced me is that I strongly believe that those 1960’s drugs were developed not because of animal experiments but despite them. Of course, it would be foolish to deny that I also want to live, but I believe that my desire to live must be based on the choices and actions in my career and lifestyle that I am making during and after treatment.

Throughout my ordeal, my respect for each of the health professionals I have dealt with - the nurses, surgeons, oncologists and radiologists - grows each week. Those people have all provided me with the greatest of care, but they, too, are limited to the treatments that are available to them. What is so disappointing is that researchers continue to base their work on animal models and people continue to pin their hopes on a miracle cure that unfortunately continues to be based on the wrong species. After all these decades why aren’t we smarter?

So, now that I am personally affected by cancer I can confirm that my position on animal experimentation has indeed changed - I am more opposed to animal research than I ever thought possible. Animal experiments are extremely cruel and scientifically flawed. If we are ever to find genuine cures for cancer and other ailments, we must focus on species-specific research - not antiquated methods that can be erroneously extrapolated from a species that differs from us anatomically, genetically and metabolically.

Taken from Punch article

Quick explanation of why animal experiments cannot help understand cancer by VIN


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