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Evolve new drug testing methods for saving animals from cruelty: Activists

A Raju, Hyderabad
Friday, April 27, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Marking the World Laboratory Animal Day, the animal activists in Hyderabad have advocated evolving new drug testing methods and save innocent animals in the process.

Earlier, on Tuesday, the city based scientists here in Hyderabad had celebrated the ‘World Laboratory Animal Day’ commemorating the sacrifices made by ‘lab animals’ in discovering medicinal drugs to fight dreaded diseases in humans. The event was organized at National Centre for Laboratory Animal Sciences (NCLAS) in National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) campus at Tarnaka. Marking the event, a national symposium on ‘Laboratory animal sciences in the new millennium-challenges and solutions,’ was also organized on the occasion.

Behind every medicine that cures diseases in humans, there exists untold suffering and sacrifice of animals. Whatever new drugs that are being developed by the scientist, first lab animals will undergo the trial for those drugs. Based on the reactions obtained from these animals, further tests and modifications are done in different phases until a final and effective drug is developed. “Without the lab animals, it would have really become impossible for our scientist to develop effective drugs to fight the dreaded disease in human beings,” opined a scientist.

The animal activists in Hyderabad have called for an end to using laboratory animals and have suggested moving towards computer-based alternatives. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Anjani Kumar, director of the animal welfare division in the ministry of environment and forests said, “Though it is far fetched, there is a hope that in the near future super-computers and DNA-based models could replicate the human body’s functions virtually to enable drug trials.”

When asked whether the animal activists will force the government to ban the use of animals in laboratories, Mahesh Agarwal, secretary for a city based animal rights organization said, “I do not see any new technology replacing the use of animals in the laboratories. So, until such ways emerge, it would seem futile if we press for a ban on the method, which will seriously impact new drug discovery. What we can say is handle animals with care and less cruelty.”

Dr Kumar thanked the worldwide sustained animal rights activism for its active role in sensitizing the world against animal abuse in medical research. He, however, added that there is much left to be done as the Drugs and Cosmetics Act (D&C) needs to be amended to award severe punishment to the violators who abuse laboratory animals.

Ironically, the NCLAS is one of the largest animal suppliers in the country. It supplies about 50,000 animals to around 175 laboratories and institutions in India. This year’s World Laboratory Animal Day is celebrated in the wake of the Central government banning use of animals in experiments in educational institutions. “Countless monkeys, dogs, rats and other animals are burned, blinded, cut open, poisoned, starved and drugged behind closed laboratory doors. Not only are animal tests extremely cruel, they are also pretty inaccurate because of the vast physiological variations between species,” says a statement by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

 

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