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Just because an ingredient is labeled "natural" doesnít mean itís safe. Many plants and plant extracts can cause harmful health effects ranging from mild irritation to even death.

Research Timeline

From the early days of biomedical research, researchers have sought answers to diseases that plague humans and animals. Following are some of the achievements of the last century—none of which would have been possible without animal research.

1900s

  • Cardiac catherization techniques developed. Species studied: dogs, rabbits.
  • Treatment of rickets, a vitamin D deficiency that causes defective bone growth in infants and children. Species studied: dogs.

1920s

  • Discovery of insulin to control diabetes. Species studied: dogs.

1930s

  • Development of modern anesthesia to allow artificially induced unconsciousness and local or general insensitivity to pain. Species studied: dogs.
  • Prevention of tetanus, an infectious disease characterized by painful muscle spasms and convulsions. Species studied: horses.
  • Development of anticoagulants, drugs that inhibit action of blood clotting factors. Species studied: cats.

1940s

  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown, medications were developed to relieve pain and inflammation. Species studied: rabbits, monkeys.
  • Discovery of the Rh factor, the ability to detect the Rh antigen in red blood cells, was a breakthrough in the immunology of pregnancy. Species studied: rhesus monkeys.
  • Prevention of diphtheria, an acute contagious disease marked by formation of membranes in the throat and other air passages. Children now receive an inoculation to prevent the disease. Species studied: horses.
  • Development of antibiotics to treat a variety of bacterial infections. Species studied: many, including rats, mice, and rabbits.
  • Treatment of whooping cough, one of the most acute infections of children. Species studied: guinea pigs, rabbits.
  • Prevention of polio. Scientists developed a vaccine for polio, a deadly disease that killed or crippled millions of people worldwide. The disease has been eradicated in the Western Hemisphere and doctors are working to eliminate it worldwide. Species studied: rabbits, monkey.
  • Discovery of DNA, which determines hereditary characteristics. Species studied: rats and mice.
  • Development of open-heart surgery and the cardiac pacemaker. Species studied: dogs.
  • Development of cancer chemotherapy. Species studied: monkeys, rabbits, and rodents.
  • Discovery of tranquilizers, chemical compounds to reduce hyperactivity, anxiety, and tension. Species studied: rats, rabbits, and monkeys.

1960s

1970s

  • Measles vaccine developed. Species studied: monkeys.
  • Leprosy treatment. Species studied: monkeys, armadillos.
  • Cardiology advances, including measurement of coronary blood flow, myocardial preservation techniques and heart bypass techniques. Species studied: dogs.

1980s

  • Development of monoclonal antibodies for treating diseases, which marked a breakthrough in the use of antibodies as diagnostic or therapeutic tools. Species studied: mice and rabbits.
  • Organ transplant advances, such as anti-rejection drugs. Species studied: dogs, sheep, cows, and pigs.

1990s

  • Laparoscopic surgical techniques developed, providing minimally invasive surgical techniques and vastly reducing the hospital stay of patients. Species studied: dogs, sheep, cows, and pigs.
  • Breast cancer discoveries. Scientists are close to discovering genetic and environmental factors of breast cancer, the leading cause of death of American women age 35 to 54. Species studied: fruit flies, mice, and rats.
  • Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis. Clinical trials are currently underway in the first step to cure a disease that threatens the lives of 30,000 children and young adults. Species studied: mice and primates. Benefits



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Are researchers using more and more animals every year?
The number of animals used in research has actually declined in the past 20 years. As technology advances, researchers are able to rely on computer models and other methods instead of animal testing. Some estimates show a reduction in animal use as high as 50 percent. Since 1967, the number of cats used in research has dropped 66 percent.