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Animal Medical Testing
Animals are often used in the testing of medicines and medical procedures prior to trials involving humans. Scientists test the efficacy and safety of treatments using animals to simulate the possible effects on humans. This method of testing treatments has been employed for over two thousand years, with the earliest known references to animal testing dating back to the 4th century BCE. Even Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher and scientist, wrote about his experiments involving medical procedures on living animals. Since then, animals have been used extensively in testing various medical treatments throughout the world. One of the most dramatic instances of animal medical testing was Dr. Jonas Salk’s discovery of a vaccine for polio in the early 1950s. At the time, polio was one of the most feared diseases, killing thousands every year and infecting many times more, with those lucky enough to survive often left with severe disabilities. Before testing his vaccine on humans, Salk experimented on rhesus monkeys, purposefully exposing them to the virus in order to determine if they had been made immune by the vaccine. Once available to the public, Salk’s vaccine was a massive success and has been credited with saving countless lives.
Despite the benefits of the medicines and procedures that have been tested on animals, some have argued that the ends do not justify the means. Opponents of animal medical testing condemn the pain and torment inflicted on test subjects, which are often purposefully infected with diseases, given massive doses of toxic chemicals, or exposed to harmful conditions. Additionally, laboratory animals are often put down after the completion of the studies in which they were involved. For generations, figures both inside and outside the medical community have argued that these procedures are unethical, and that regulations must be put in place, or, if they are already extant, made more rigorous.
It was in 1876 that the first law specifically regulating experimentation on animals was enacted in the UK, the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. Under the Cruelty to Animals Act, researchers could only perform painful procedures on animals if the experiments were absolutely necessary in order to “save or prolong human life.” However, opponents of vivisection 1 saw this early law as weak in its regulatory force, as it established no restrictions on the licensing of those qualified to carry out animal experimentation. Consequently, medical students continued to campaign for legislation better mandating humane treatment of laboratory animals, although the act was not replaced or significantly modified until over a century later, when the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 was passed. However, animal experimentation in certain forms has continued, as has its opposition.
The reason for its persistence is clear. When done on animals, medical tests are often at the stage where toxicity and other side effects are still unknown. ■ (A) Proponents of animal testing in research argue that using people at these early stages could endanger human lives. ■ (B) Additionally, animal testing allows researchers to tightly control the subjects’ environments and monitor all conditions to which they are exposed. ■ (C) This level of control ensures that researchers are able to isolate the effects of the studied treatment independent of unknown environmental factors, which would not be possible in tests involving humans. ■ (D) Perhaps the strongest contention from those in favor of animal medical testing is that the technique has saved countless lives, as in the case of the polio vaccine. Albert Sabin, one of the researchers working with Dr. Salk in the 1950s, has said that “without animal research, polio would still be claiming thousands of lives each year.” Another commonly cited example lies in the work of Dr. Albert Starr, who succeeded in replacing faulty human heart valves after experimenting on dog hearts in the 1960s. This procedure was far too risky to have been performed on humans before the technique was perfected. Currently, around 300,000 people receive heart valve replacement surgery each year, allowing them to live longer and healthier lives. As alternative testing techniques have yet to rival the efficacy shown by animal testing in such historical medical milestones, the practice has persisted despite continued controversy.
on live animals for the purpose of instruction or experimentation
According to paragraph 1, researchers use animal medical testing to
The word dramatic in paragraph 1 is closest in meaning to
The phrase “test subjects” in the paragraph 2 refers to
According to paragraph 2, all of the following can happen to animals used in medical testing EXCEPT:
The word endanger in paragraph 4 is closest in meaning to
According to paragraph 4, researchers must monitor the environments of animals in medical tests in order to
The word contention in paragraph 5 is closest in meaning to
According to paragraph 5, Dr. Albert Starr experimented on dog hearts because
Look at the four squares [▪] in paragraph 4 that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.
The animals are often watched around the clock and given daily examinations.
Where would the sentence fit best?
Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some answer choices do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor details in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.
Research using animal medical testing has been conducted for thousands of years and has contributed to major medical achievements.