Good morning! Now that we’ve gotten the horror of this election mostly out of the way, let’s talk about something that most animal lovers cringe at: animal testing. Specifically, animal testing in rats and mice.
I know, I know, I speak of horrors and blasphemy. How dare I?
Well, I noticed the other day whilst browsing through a “rat fan club” type group on Facebook a picture of a blue rat with about how the blue dye from M&M’s had been found to help heal spinal injuries in rats and, subsequently, turn them blue. Now, what started as a simple question of “is this true” quickly turned into a huge debate about animal testing and the ethical side of things, most people siting the living conditions, cosmetic testing, and whatnot for their argument. But, as I read through the comments, I could only wonder if any of them really understood the importance of testing when it comes to health concerns. Let’s cover a few of them, shall we?
A big question I see a lot is why on Earth would someone test on a sweet little rat. Well, it’s pretty simple. Rats and mice have similar genetics to humans and are easy to breed in a way to strengthen similarities that need studied. Rats and mice also make it easier to observe multiple generations in a short period of time.
Now, as for the actual testing, you would be surprised at how many things are studied using rats. A big one being cancer research. This has helped researchers study dietary, genetic, and environmental components the can cause cancer and has even helped to studies on how to prevent it.
Neurology is a big area for testing as well. Since rats and mice are similar to humans, scientists believe that this sort of testing can lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of spinal injuries, strokes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and other diseases involving nerve damage. Not to mention researchers have also began exploring ways to block the protein that is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s, hopefully finding a way to slow or completely stop the disease. As someone who has watched some amazing people succumb to Alzheimer’s, I think this is pretty incredible.
Rats are also used is studying diabetes, dental research, reproductive biology, the connection between nutrition and aging, and transplants. They’re even a part of studies to see how genetics can effect learning and reasoning. In short, rats are freaking awesome and have been a huge part in making strides in medical science.
Basically, we wouldn’t be where we are today in the medical field if it weren’t for rats. I’m not saying it’s perfect, I’m saying it’s necessary to run trials and study these things so we can make them better. And, after doing research before writing this post, I can understand why rodents are used. I can see where they’re coming from. Again, it’s not perfect and it’s not ideal. But it works. And it helps.
Now, I understand that not everyone will agree with me. What are your thoughts?
And, for those of you who won’t believe any of this, here are my sources.