Scientists and innovators always get lauded for every new contribution they make, but another creature's great sacrifice in this regard gets largely overlooked.
Man has been conducting tests on animals to aide his scientific research since the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE. From dissections to euthanasia, drug testing and whatnot, the kingdom Animalia has born all the terrible experiences us humans have subjected it to.
It's about time they got some relief. And they might actually be getting some, if a team of UK scientists is to be believed.
Led by King's College London, this group claims that by using stem cells it has successfully grown human skin in a lab. When perfected, this new method could actually replace the current norm of using animal skin for drug and cosmetics testing.
It certainly isn't the first time that epidermis – the exterior most layer of human skin — has been scientifically manufactured through stem cells. The difference, however, this time is that this method allows development of a permeable barrier too, just like actual human skin. This barrier, which keeps moisture in but rejects the entry of microbes, was absent in previous clone attempts.
Moreover, this artificial skin also is quite cheap to manufacture, meaning its large-scale adoption is possible.
The news has been met with positivity by the animal rights activists, including the Humane Society International. While it certainly is a step in the right direction, it's only a step in a marathon.
Illegal hunting and other threats to wildlife dominate mainstream media, but the abuse animals suffer in the name of science doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Photo of a rabbit said to be undergoing a Draize test. The procedure involves applying 0.5mL or 0.5g of a test substance to the eye or skin of a restrained, conscious animal, and then leaving it for a set amount of time.
This rat is being deprived of restful sleep to gauge its reaction.