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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Animal testing

Ever since I started working in the Medical Devices area, I have never been caught into thoughts so much as today when the topic of animal testing for some of the devices I am designing came about. I have mixed feelings when I know something that I have designed will be put into a perfectly healthy animal to see how it will respond before testing it on humans. I do not want to get into the debate of banning animal testing or not.

I believe that animal testing cannot be done away until reliable, alternative testing methods can be found. From my experience, it is almost impossible to replicate properties of tissues, veins and arteries in the lab. That is just the very nature of biology - which is so simple, yet so complex. The closest we can come to imitating human tissue is animal tissue. As a result, animal testing for cardiovascular devices and others are almost inevitable. Nevertheless, as engineers and human beings, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do not harm more animals than we should.

After being with animals, it is almost natural to create an emotional bond with them. Last week, I met a person whose job it is to quarantine (for a week) and care for test animals. I wonder how many deaths does she die everyday when she has to take the animals to the Operating Room or for necropsy.

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