Strong rebellion against animal experiments

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by Michael Hörskens

(6/21/2019) Mice were implanted in tumor cells to study cancer. Experimental monkeys get electrodes inserted into the brain to measure the activity of neurons. Examples are varied and always associated with pain, suffering, harm or fear for animals. Every year, about 2.8 million mice, rats, rabbits, fish and other animals suffer and die in the only German laboratories in the name of medicine and research. It works differently, say the opponents of animal experimentation.

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The Kurpfalz Working Group of Doctors Against Animal Experiments briefed Heidelberg with a silent line on animal experiments
Photo: Doctors against animal experimentation

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About 100 years ago, the principle of animal experimentation in modern medicine was established – a considerable advance for research, in which Berlin scientists like Robert Koch, Paul Ehrlich, Emil von Behring and Otto Warburg have play an important role. Humanity's hope of overcoming diseases such as cancer or infections could only be partially achieved.

"Official figures from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicate that about 97% of drugs that are safe and effective in animal studies are rejected in the following human clinical trials for adverse effects." serious or are withdrawn after regulatory approval "Wulf Heintz of the association" Physicians against animal testing "in Heidelberg. In addition, the National Institutes of Health of the United States report that 95% of all drugs that prove to be safe and effective during animal testing fail when tested on humans. "The results of experiments on animals are therefore generally not transferable to humans during the development of a drug and could be replaced by more effective tests without animals," says the biologist. For example, by human cell lines or organ replicates (organoids) that provide significantly better results.

"In the era of computer models and multi-organ chips, animal experimentation is a relic of a bygone era that no longer has to fit into the 21st century," says Dr. Corina Gericke, vice president of Physicians Against Animal Experimentation. "There are many examples of how scientifically meaningless animal experiments are, but also scientific," says Corina Gericke. "The so-called models have nothing in common with the clinical situation in humans."

According to the doctor, tests on animals are regularly minimized in pro-Tierversuchslobby animals. Meanwhile, the EU now allows such animal tests to be banned with a "heavy" degree of gravity, which is ignored in Germany. The association requires the policy, as a step on the path to abolition at least the worst animal experiments to put a legal term.

"Although the explicit objective of the EU Animal Testing Directive is to replace animal testing for scientific purposes as soon as possible, little remains to date"; informs Christina Ledermann of the Federal Association of Experimenters on Animals e.V. Unfortunately, the federal government shows little interest in changing this sad situation, she said. "We call on the Federal Minister of Research, Anja Karliczek, and the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner: to immediately advocate a concrete strategic action plan allowing a systematic exit from the testing system. about animals, "says Christine Lindemann. "Government circles have long known that there are effective non-animal methods such as imaging techniques such as computed tomography and MRI, as well as software, through which it is possible to use a computer. The effect of substances can be extremely sensitive to human cells or tissues tested, "added Wulf Heintz. ,

Elsewhere, the subject continues, reports Heintz: "The Netherlands is doing it.The Hague had already published in 2016 a plan of action against animal experimentation, which claimed to allow 2025 d & # 39; To stop all experiments on animals, now Germany should do the same. "The PETA animal welfare organization is also very engaged. For decades he has been promoting the development and validation of animal-free testing methods. Regular work is done with industry partners and regulators to ensure that these test methods are applied.

There is hope. Because in the industry, we have sometimes woken up and is based on real facts. An example is the drug Aducanumab Biogen, which joins the long list of Alzheimer's drugs, which raised great hopes in animal testing, but remained ineffective in patients. A common phenomenon that has been criticized by the Association of Doctors Against Animal Testing for years. Biogen with the manufacturer Eisai has discontinued the prescribed clinical trials on humans. Other pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Merck, also stopped last year research projects on drugs to fight Alzheimer's and dementia, their effectiveness at home. the man has not materialized. The chemical company BASF has also partially abandoned animal experiments or replaced them with non-animal test methods.

Depression is a serious illness. However, futile experiments on mice and rats using the infamous "forced swimming test" revealed that of the 47 drugs identified by PETA USA, AbbVie, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly, both tested on Not one animal is approved for the treatment of depression in humans. Following a meeting with PETA USA, AbbVie is committed to no longer performing the forced swim test. AbbVie is the first pharmaceutical company to publicly oppose the near drowning of laboratory animals.

Another good news: the US pharmaceutical group Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. is clearly opposed to animal cruelty and refused to conduct experiments on dogs. Although the drug agency wanted to force the FDA to undergo fatal tests. Vanda refused on the grounds that the experiments were both ethically unacceptable and scientifically useless. In addition, the company has filed a criminal complaint against the FDA.

"There are good examples of results from experiments on animals that are not transferable to humans.If you look at" animal models "for many diseases, this is not surprising." , criticizes Dr. Tamara Zietek, scientist at Doctors Against Experiments on Animals. "Research into the treatment of these diseases is important, and it is necessary to use human models of drug development to elucidate the true causes of human disease and develop effective therapies," she said. . For example, brain organelles developed from patient cells are a promising approach to promote. "This would serve, on the one hand, the animals that have suffered needlessly during experiments and, on the other hand, the patients, who, after raising false hopes, are only one. another disappointment, "said Zietek.

Meanwhile, something is happening in German research. For example, a partnership project of the Technical University (TU) of Berlin and the University Medical Center of Charity takes shape. A new joint research campus is to be built on Seestrasse in Wedding. The research building "The Simulated Man" (Si-M) constitutes the heart of the campus. Doctors and biotechnologists will work there to mimic the functions of human cells and tissues with new technologies. "Human model systems create a completely new foundation for understanding human physiology in its complexity and for better understanding diseases, and on that basis we can also develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies," said Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Health. Charity.

In particular, the immunologists, oncologists and researchers in the field of regenerative medicine of Charity, which deals, for example, with the healing of heart tissue or cartilage, are interested in new technologies. The goal is to develop human cell systems that are better suited for drug testing and other experiments than laboratory animals. Particularly with respect to modern cancer therapies, the collaboration is considered promising. Scientists assume that someday will require far fewer animal experiments to conduct biomedical research.

But not everywhere, you are already so far away. In Heidelberg, one of Germany's strongholds for animal research, thousands of vertebrate experiments are performed every year, including at the University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Until recently, the DKFZ considered animal testing as essential, because without it, it would be necessary to dispense with effective drugs. "This apocalyptic argument on a very sensitive topic is both dubious and false," says Wulf Heintz of Physicians Against Animal Experiments. Finally, in the research center, the negative results of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the development of the drug are known.

The prosecutor's office is currently investigating DKFZ's experiments on illegal animals and their concealment, as it has done previously for scandals and the like. MPI Tübingen (simian experiments), Kerckhoff-Klinik Bad Nauheim (experiments on mice and pigs) and the University of Münster (experiments on mice). The national association Doctors Against Animal Experiments has since instituted criminal proceedings against researchers from the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) for suspicion of violation of the law on protection animals. According to the association's research, a working group of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic has likely conducted animal experiments on Beagle dogs and possibly also on pigs without proper authorization for several years. .

To draw attention to the suffering of animals in the laboratories and the scientific doubts of this research method, the Kurpfalz Working Group of Physicians Against Animal Experimentation also participated in the International Day for Animal Welfare. abolition of animal testing in April. This time, the Heidelberg Anatomy Garden was invited to a day of action with an information booth and a silent line, where opponents of animal experiments provided posters and information on the subject .

The Vereinigung Physicians against Animal Experimentation has existed since 1979 and is a national association of doctors, veterinarians and natural scientists who reject animal experiments for ethical and scientific reasons. The association is engaged in a modern and humane medicine and science without animal experiments, which are based on the human, research for the cause, the prevention of diseases and the use of research methods non-animal in the foreground.