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Animal Testing and Human Life

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Video 1: Animal Testing
Welcome back, so today we will continue with the ethical discussion on Tissue Engineeringproblems.So, in today’s topic we will talk about, first we will talk about Animal testing.As I mentioned in the previous lecture, when you test any tissue which you have developedin vitro, it has to be studied for in vivo using animals before it can be taken to humans.So, these in vivo studies are performed on different animals, it could either be a smallanimal or a large animal.However, these animal tests are crucial before you can take it forward to human tests, sothat you can prove the viability.However, is this the best way?Are animal models truly representative?So, these are some of the ethical questions which we need to look at.So, what are the dilemma which comes here?So, when you are talking about animal testing people have done this in the past, it is usedto develop new medicines or therapies, testing safety of experimental medical proceduresis important to be done in animals before it can be tested in humans.Some of the examples would be monkeys which have, which were used for polio research orcats for hypertensive drug research.So, these are some of the common things which people have done.However, is this acceptable? is this truly a representative model?Those are some of the questions which causes an ethical debate.When you are talking about a scientist’s perspective, you would be looking at it fromthe medical progress.Medical progress depends on animal research, human testing will be much riskier, if wedo not do it on animals.So, it is not that animals will give us 100 percent accurate results, there is no guaranteethat any results you obtain from animals will be absolutely applicable in humans.However, if we do not do the animal testing at all, then you are increasing the risk forhumans multiple fold.So, is that a risk which we are willing to assume?In vitro studies are also performed ahead of performing in vivo studies, what this meansis there is extensive studies which are done at lab scale to make sure that the materialwhich we are the product which we are actually testing on animals is reasonably safe.So, we do make sure that there is a lot of guidelines on how we do it.It is not that every material which is developed or every product that is developed is randomlyand indiscriminately tested on animals, which means we do have a certain standard and onlywhen the standards are met, we are able to perform it in animals.But at the same time in vitro studies can only take you so far.They cannot give you a complete understanding, in vitro studies at lab scale is probablydone using cell lines or primary cells or even if you create tissues; you are only lookingat one single thing.Whereas, in an in vivo system, in an animal system or in an animal model what you haveis the interplay between different tissues and organs and also the organ systems.So, this can all play a role in how the toxicity or effectiveness of the product which is developedis.So, it is important to test it at larger for larger animals for animals before you takeit to humans.As scientists, care is taken to make sure that the process is as humane as possible,it is not the intention of a scientist to harm or cause pain to an animal.The intention of a scientist is to make medical breakthroughs which can help in improvingthe quality of life of individuals.So, this means they would also take immense care in making sure that the process is ashumane as possible causing very minimal pain and discomfort to the animals.Also, the three Rs, the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement is always lookedat, which means if you have a way to test it without using animals then that is whatis first looked at.So, that is a replacement, reduction is where you minimize the number of animals.So, you do not test it on large number of animals.You test it on the required number of animals to get a significant and scientifically validresult.Refinement is using the methods which are more refined, which will cause lesser painto the animals and minimize the suffering and improve animal welfare as well.So, these 3Rs are always followed by any scientist.So, these are the arguments which are put forth by a scientist.So, now let us see what would be the argument of someone who is not a scientist.So, let us look at it from a philosopher’s perspective, if you have a philosopher whosupports animal testing in general.So, how can a philosopher make arguments to support it?So, that these are the arguments which are philosophical arguments to support animalresearch.And one of the things which is said is animals are not morally equal to humans, there theyhave lesser cognitive abilities and lesser autonomy.So, you cannot fully treat them as equals, we do kill animals for food, we do treat animalsas second-class species in this world.We may want to deny that, but that is the reality, nobody is going to be hanged to deathfor running over a dog.So, that is a problem, so we as a society do understand that animals are not morallyequal to humans.However, is this the only thing which can be looked at.So that becomes the question, so from a philosopher’s perspective, you can say that animals becausethey are not morally equal to humans, they do not have the same rights as humans.So, the reason for saying animals are have lesser moral value than humans is they havelesser cognitive abilities which means they do not actually understand or they are notindependently thinking beings.They also have lesser autonomy compared to humans.So, all these reasons give us reason to say that animals do not have the same rights ashumans.However, by applying these rules, you can also say that infants and mentally challengedhumans are also not morally equal to other fully developed humans; would this be an acceptablething?So, then you have to find a compromise and basically say that these are humans who comereally close to a fully developed human.So, they cannot be considered the same as animals or they high either have the potentialto be fully developed humans or they are very close to fully developed humans.So, either way we cannot fully say that they are equivalent to an animal.So, these are the arguments philosophical arguments which can be placed in support ofanimal research.So, what would be the philosophical arguments you place if you are opposing animal research?So, a philosopher who opposes animal research would put forth these things.Animals have some moral status or nobody saying that they have the exact moral status as ahuman being, they already have some moral status.So, we do understand that running over a dog might not be seen as a crime.But if somebody tortures and abuses a pet or other animal it is a crime.So, we do understand that.So, this strongest supporter for animal rights would with the philosopher’s perspectivecan even say that humans and animals are equal.So, otherwise it can be called as speciesism, which like racism is a way of discriminatingbecause of the species.And we should say that they deserve the fundamental rights and freedoms as a human.So, some of the rights which animals should have from a philosopher whose opposes animaltesting, his perspective would be they need to have freedom from hunger and thirst whichmeans they should get food and water, they should have freedom from discomfort.So, we should not be causing pain and suffering for the animals.They should be free from pain, injury and disease, freedom from pain injury and disease.They should have freedom to express normal behavior.So, whatever an animal would do regularly or as a normal animal should be allowed, weshould not interfere with it.There should be freedom from fear and distress, they should not be forced into something,they should not be create a fearful environment and distressful environment should not becreated.When we are performing animal testing some of these basic freedoms are actually violatedwhich means animal testing should not be done.So, this is a philosopher’s perspective opposing the animal testing.So finally, you also have the animal rights activists.So, the animal rights activists believe that animals are exposed to too much sufferingand there are arguments about better alternatives then animal research.Because there have been many studies which have shown that the data cannot be directlyextrapolated from animals to humans.So, for that reason people think that it is you are better off are not doing animal studiesat all and the last point which is usually presented is we do not have the right to exploitnatures beings.Although we are humans and we believe that we have to save each other’s lives, thatdoes not give us the right to take the life of another living being.And these are the arguments which are usually put forth when it comes to an animal rights activist.

Video 2: Informed Consent and Extending Human Life
Another important ethical debate when it comes to any biomedical research including tissueengineering is Informed consent.So, what is informed consent?An informed consent is basically providing a sufficiently detailed information to participantsbefore they consent to participate.So, basically if you are going to recruit patients or volunteers to test your product,then you need to inform them of all the potential risks and give them the benefits and tellthem all the information, that can actually be useful for them to understand and thenactually they will decide whether they want to be a part of the study or not.So, this informed consent should include the purpose of the study, expected duration, proceduresof the study, information on their right to decline or withdraw.So, the volunteers or the patients have the right to decline or withdraw.Foreseeable consequences of withdrawing and declining.So, in the sense that if the middle of the trial if they withdraw or what could be theconsequences and potential risk, discomfort or adverse effects by using this by takingpart in the study, prospective research benefits which the society gets to gain.So, incentives if any and if they have any queries who they should contact?So, all this information needs to be presented to the participant or the volunteer in a languagethat is understandable it cannot just be some random legal document which is which you forcethem to sign, it needs to be explained to them.So, that they fully understand what they are doing and be involved in the decision-makingprocess.So, why is this important and why has this become an issue, when you do not have this,it can lead to exploitation.So, we will talk about a couple of examples where informed consent was never obtainedand what kind of ramifications this has had.One major case which is studied when it comes to informed consent is the case of Henriettalacks, Henrietta lacks is was a woman who died in 1951 she was 34, 31 years old andshe died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins.So, Dr. George Gey who was at that point working on culturing human cells received Henriettalacks cells.So, Henrietta lacks cells were obtained without informed consent.So, these cells survived and reproduced an entire generation every 24 hours.So, this was the first-time human cells grew and reproduced outside human body.So, the first immortal cell line which is the HeLa cell lines which you might have heardof was created.So, over the years, over the last 60 plus years, close to 70 years more than 50 milliontons of HeLa cells have been grown and over 60000 papers have used her cells.So, publications which have been published in research articles and research journalsare more than 60000 and they have all used HeLa cells.So, millions and millions of dollars have been spent and generated, because of the HeLacells.Thousands of scientific carriers have been made and hundreds of millions of patientshave actually been benefitted because of the use of HeLa cells.However, these cells were obtained without the consent.So, had she been asked for informed consent or her loved one been asked for informed consentand had they declined, none of these things would have happened.So, all these scientific advancements and medical advancements would not have happened.So, had they given the informed consent form to the family and they had declined it, wewould have been set back decades when it comes to medical research.However, what is the other side of it.There has been significant violation of privacy.So, in 1976 there was a paper which was published titled as Genetic characteristics of HeLacells.So, this actually breached many confidentiality rules that are very serious today.However, 45, 43 years back it was not that big a deal and people published it and thiswas a privacy information which and should not have been revealed had there been an informedconsent.Then she would have had HeLa Henrietta lacks and her family would have had control overwhat was actually being revealed.There was also a book which was published in published by Michael gold called the conspiracyof cells one woman’s immortal legacy and the medicals scandal it caused.So, this actually described her autopsy.So, he was given to access he was given access to medical records without families consent.So, these are serious violations and one would not want this to happen; having an informedconsent we can prevent something like this.In 2013 her genome was published without permission.So, this was done as recently as 2013.So now, after all this NIH and Lacks family have come to an agreement, where the familygets some control over access to cell’s DNA code acknowledgement in scientific papers.And two family members have joined a 6-member committee, which will regulate the accessto the genetic code of this these cells.So, not having the informed consent actually help medical field; however, if, however bynot having this kind of form or this procedure, severe violation of privacy has also happened.Another case where informed consent was never obtained is the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.Here, people were actually people actually suffered significantly.So, this happened from 1932 to 1972 and this was done by the US public health service.So, the study was to understand the natural progression of untreated syphilis in ruralAfrican American men in Alabama.So, the participants were not informed about their disease, the participants were not treatedalthough at that time penicillin was identified as an effective antibiotic against syphilis.People who are not given this disease they were only looked and they were only seen asa volunteer for the study and they were not informed that they are not being treated fora disease which they have.By not treating them you actually were doing significant harm to the patient.However, had there been an informed consent, the people would have actually understoodwhat they are signing up for and if somebody signed up for this and all and wanted to withdrawthey would have still been able to do that.Because information was hidden from the patients, they underwent severe trauma although theydid not have.So, the next ethical dilemma when it comes to tissue engineering or any biomedical researchis Extending human life.So, anytime we are looking at biomedical advances you are looking to extend human life.Is this a good thing?So, that is a question which people ask.So what you do is you are saving a life, when you save a life you are not making them directlyimmortal.However, you are actually postponing death, but by postponing death indefinitely you aremoving towards immortality.So, is this a good thing for the society, where do we draw the line; not all thingscan be seen as equal right.Saving the life of a child versus saving the life of an 80-year-old cannot be seen as thesame thing, the child has the entire life ahead, whereas an 80-year-old might have hada fulfilling life already.So, do we still treat these two things equally or extending lives of these two individualsseen as the same thing, we do not see it that way.So then how, where do we draw the line.How to distinguish between preserving a life versus preserving oneself or ego?See in most religions, people believe that life is valuable, people always value lifeand they say that no life should be destroyed.At the same time, most of religions will also believe that life ends at some point and tryingto beat death is seen as preserving one’s own ego, it is seen as a sin or it is seenas a wrong thing to do.So, where do we draw the line? where do we find the difference?So, the ethical dilemma when it comes to this extending life is living longer always a goodthing for the individual.When we first think about extending life, we always say that the individual should behappy, because they get to live for a very long period of time.Let us say if somebody lives on to be 120.120 years on this earth, people might see it as wow they were blessed, they lived along life.However, what would be the quality of life?It is not enough if somebody lives a long life will they be able to live a healthy life,will they be able to live a productive life or will they be able to do their own things.So, or will they be dependent on people, so how is that going to affect them.So, what is the economic burden on such a person.See in today’s world, a person retires when he is 60 and if you have to live on to be120 you basically are retiring at around half the time you have.So, how do you then meet the economic burden for the rest of their life, you cannot earnfor 30 or 40 years and live for another 60 years.How does it work, will the economic burden be met by the society or the government orhow do we work on that?So, above all, what would be the psychological impact.Living on forever doing the exact same thing can be can take a toll in a somewhere on somebody’smind.I will be boring it will be routine it can drive one mad what would be the effect ofthat.Next important question is who will these facilities be available to, will it be availableto everybody or is it going to be available only to the elites.Currently the life expectancy gap between the Americas richest one percent and the poorestone percent is 14 years, it is actually slightly more than 14 years.If you are going to compare the expected life expectancy of the top one percent of the USwith a third world country, the gap will be way way larger; Is this something we want?Do we really want a society where only the elites get to live on while the others perish.Is that the kind of society where you would want to or want one to live, where do we drawthe line, how do we develop this.Then what happens to the socio-economic distribution.How do you deal with the aging population as people live longer, the average populationage is going to go much higher.how do you then deal with that?What are the ramifications of that, what are the medical expenses associated with that?What is going to be the societal impact of that?Will there be a racial divide when this happens, because if it is only available to certainsociety, say part of the society, how does it affect the racial distribution.Will we be able to bring newer generations to the world, if the world is already goingto be filled with all these old people how do we bring newer generations and youngergeneration.Will there be enough resources to handle all this as the population keeps increasing endlessly,will the resources available on this earth be sufficient for us to survive.So, these are some of the ethical questions which have to be answered before we fullyunderstand whether this whether advances in tissue engineering or any biomedical sciencescan actually solve problems or will it raise more problems.Guidelines need to be evolved based on what is acceptable for the society and things needto be done in a way that it helps the society at the large scale.So, as I had mentioned in the earlier as well, I am not trying to present any one particularviewpoint here, I only want to create to actually present the ethical debates which are happening.And, it is important for you to think through them, argue about them and develop guidelineswhich would be acceptable for all.Thank you.