If you do science and use animals in research explain on your blog and link back here.Alrighty. Mark has already emphasized my main point—antibodies. We cannot make synthetic antibodies. We cannot model an antibody on a computer, push a button, and get a gallon of monoclonal antibodies to HIV-1 Subtype B gp120 out the end of a garden hose. We have to use mice, rats, rabbits, goats, donkeys, etc to generate antibodies. We have to.
But we have figured out ways to limit the mice we need to kill for antibodies. For instance, rather than keeping warehouses of mice to generate your antibody, you can stretch the good you get from one mouse’s sacrifice by creating ‘hybridomas.’ If you fuse a cell from a mouse spleen with a cell from an immortal cell line, you can create a cell line to make antibodies for you! Just grow the cells in a flask, collect the supernatant, and purify the antibodies! I use an OKT3 cell line all the time for anti-CD3 antibodies! You can even freeze some cells, FedEx em to a friend, and they can grow the EXACT antibody youve been using in your experiments! You know, Im saying this, assuming that animal rights fundamentalists are like anti-abortion advocates, and don’t give a crap about me killing cells…
Personally, antibodies are my main use of animals in my research thus far.
If we win a grant Bossman is submitting, we are going to be using mice to study the epigenetic control of endogenous retroviruses. We’re not just jumping into killing mice. We first just did some basic experiments using cell lines. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, radio labeling proteins, mutating stuff and trying the experiments again, etc. We got really good data. So we need to use mice to figure out how what we see in cell lines translates to physiology. We think disregulation of ERVs causes or perpetuates cancer.
“OMG U R SO DUMB!” an animal rights fundie might scream. “MICE IZ R NOT PEOPLZ!”
Yup, mice iz r not peoplz. Sometimes this is worse for the research than with others (ie infecting mice with HIV-1? have to take your results with BIG grains of salt), but luckily I think findings we make with our particular project will be very applicable in humans. And, we can do things with mice we cannot do with people. For instance, it is unethical to create an experimental group of people, whom we deprive of a particular nutrient connected with this epigenetic system to see if they get cancer. We cannot deprive groups of cancer patients of this nutrient to see if they metastasize more frequently or die faster. We cannot deprive pregnant mothers of this nutrient to see if they abort their babies, or if the babies live, to see what kind of mental/physical deformities they have. We cant take children away from their mothers and give them breast milk from different mothers that have been deprived of this nutrient. We cant use clonal colonies of people, nor can we sequence the entire genome of every human in our trials to make sure everyone has the same ERVs in the same locations.
We can do all of these things with mice. Im going to do my best to make sure not one mouse dies in vain. That I learn something from every mouse I have to kill, and that all the mice I kill die painlessly.
“BUT IZ NOT WURTH IT!” says the animal rights fundie.
What we’re hoping to find with our research: evidence that a new kind of epigenetic modification is important for controlling the activity of endogenous retroviruses, and can be studied to improve the lifespan and quality of life of everyone on this planet.
I think iz wurth it.