Thursday, February 16, 2017

Clinical Trials on Pets

Clinical Trials on Pets

Almost everyone has owned some type of pet at one point in life. These animals are like family, and it is devastating when one of them gets sick. Unfortunately not every disease is curable, just like not every human disease is curable. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Science is doing clinical trials on pet cats and dogs with hope of developing better medicine for people and for animals.
The reasoning behind the idea of moving from lab rodents to pets for clinical trials is that these animals live side by side with humans, have more genetic diversity, and have more realistic immune systems than lab-raised mice and rats. These parallels that pets share with humans make them a better candidate for studying the effects of new drugs and drug therapies. There are a couple diseases that are nearly identical in humans and household pets that are treated by the same drug, which makes further research in this area justifiable. Using pets is beneficial because these animals are greatly cared for by their owners. Most researchers won’t think twice about killing mice or rats in a lab but when pets are being worked with, more care and thought is put into the treatment. This can also be a downfall. Since the researchers have to be so cautious this slows things down a bit. It also limits the full understanding of the treatment because they cannot kill the pets at the end of the trial to see the full effects of the trial like they do with lab rodents. Another downside of using pets it that the diseases they can test treatments for are limited since multiple pets might be hard to recruit. With rodents the diseases can be easily bred into many of them making sample size no issue at all.

Even with the ups and downs, these trials offer an alternative treatment for pets that could spare them a lot of pain and possibly even improve their conditions. These clinical trials are bringing medicine one step closer to being more efficient for humans and animals.

Source: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/can-clinical-trials-dogs-and-cats-help-people
Images: http://stories.barkpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/dogvet3.jpg 

http://thedenverdog.com/early-detection-is-key-ten-warning-signs-of-cancer-in-dogs-and-cats

Posted by: Hannah Jordan (2)

9 comments:

  1. I think this a great idea being conducted at the university. I have / had pets at home and I understand and experienced the strong bond that is made. I believe this idea could bring a lot of positives into the world of health not only for pets but for humans! Although the process could take longer as you stated I think its a great way to discover possible cures and answer some lingering questions.

    Posted by Angela Driscoll (group A)

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  2. Great Blog, I really enjoyed the comparing and contrasting you did with using pets to test different drugs and treatments vs. using mice and rats as test subjects. One question I did have was that aren't there regulations with using household pets for science? I could have sworn that I read something where using dogs and cats is frowned upon by society and banned from occurring. I could be wrong but I was just wondering if you knew the answer to that.

    Posted by Nicolas Baltayan (group A)

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    1. The regulations are along the same lines as it is for any lab animal. I believe it is frowned upon because of the same reasons any animal testing is. Many people believe it is torturous. In some cases it is but the pet clinical trials are humane, they just have the stigma of ‘animal testing.’

      Posted by Hannah Jordan (2)

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  3. I thought that having clinical trials on household pets is a very interesting concept and can prove to be beneficial for medicinal purposes in the future. These trials seem very similar to human clinical trials. As Nicolas asked there are heavy restrictions on animal testing in pre-clinical trials where household pets can not be used. During pre-clinical trials drugs are tested on animals like rats, dogs and monkeys that have been bred solely for animal testing. Here a drug is tested on them that has never been used before and its efficacy is unknown. During clinical trials the drugs/methods used have already been tested in rats or other model organisms with positive results. These pet clinical trials are a great way for owners to get treatment for their pets without paying a large amount of money while also gathering more data as to how the treatment works in a more genetically diverse patient.

    Posted by Leah DeLorenzo (group A)

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  4. I agree that having clinical trials on dogs may be more beneficial to humans for studying many diseases because dogs and humans go far back in history together. They do share many similarities to us, as learned in an evolutionary class I took. That's why dogs can be easily studied to compare them to us instead of doing the work on humans to get the most accurate results and answers. But as stated, dogs and pets come to be a part of the family. Studies done like this may be objected by many people but that's why they do take caution for those who do perform these studies.


    Posted by Natalie Nou (group c)

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  5. This read was very interesting, however I believe to be a very controversial topic ethically. Using animals alone, such as lab rats already brings about an ethical concern but I feel has been overlooked over the recent years because of all the science discoveries made from the experiments. However, if one were to use a dog for instance, the experiments may obtain results but will get criticism for potential harm/danger the experiments proposed to the animals. This is because of the human attachment to dogs and cats that we have as opposed to a small rodent. Interestingly enough, I am curious to see how these experiments will potentially aid in our science discoveries or be shut down.

    Posted by Andrew Do (group A)

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    1. I agree this is a very controversial topic. Animal testing in general has always been unfavorable for me personally. I think having clinical trials for pets actually takes away the unethical part of testing because these pets are overly cared for by the owners and researchers. The pets are also sick in the first place so these tests give them potential at a better life.

      Posted by Hannah Jordan (2)

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  6. I really like that they are trying to find alternative treatments for pets and at the same time using this to help humans too. As a dog owner myself I'm a huge advocate for animals. I think this is a really good idea as long as they're not put through much stress because in the long run it will be a good way to find cures for human and animal diseases or illnesses since we share many genetic similarities.
    Posted by Ana Carolina Nepomuceno

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  7. I can see how this would help in developing better medicine for people and for animals. Animals bred in a lab are definitely not good representatives of typical immune systems found at home. I do wonder how this would work out though, because it sounds like people would be keeping their pets at home through the trial, meaning that researchers would have to account for inaccuracies that owners report back or inconsistencies if some owners didn't follow their instructions exactly. I also wonder how the general public would react to this, because as Andrew said, people are more attached to dogs and cats than rodents and I can definitely see organizations like PETA making this very difficult for researchers or pet owners.

    Posted by Haley Huang, Group A

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