animal models

Alan Stern ahstern at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Feb 6 09:47:47 EST 1996

DrJackBud (name?) wrote:

<Would you say that even though humans do not exhibit a certain event that
<is seen in animals, the investigations in animals is worthwhile?  If so,
<why?  If not, why?  It seems to me that models for risk in humans may not
<be the same as models to study a certain process, that may or may not
<accur in humans.  If the process does not occur in humans while it does in
<an animal, then perhaps the question becomes why does it happen in animals
<and not in humans?  Any thoughts????   

I think that the answer as to whether such investigations are worthwhile
depends on what you want to know.  If this sounds facile, I think it is
because we need to realize that toxicology is not only multi-faceted, but
multi-directional.  That is, if your goal is to provide hazard identification
and dose-response information for a risk assessment, for a specific chemical,
then there is likely to be little relevance in an adverse effect in an animal
"model" which does not occur in humans.  And, in this narrow context, the
animal is not, in fact, a valid model.  On the other hand, if your goal is
the more basic-science goal of understanding toxicologic mechanisms, then the
fact that a specific effect from a specific chemical does not occur in humans
does not invalidate the finding or related investigations.  In fact, the
understanding of the mechanism may ultimately have relevance for a different
chemical, or a different target tissue.  This dichotomy is really just the
old discussion about applied versus basic science.  I would suspect that most
scientists (toxicologists included) accept the importance of basic science. 
The question of whether  such basic science is "worthwhile" in a given
applied context depends on who is asking and when.  

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