Canines as model animals for biomedical research

Animals and human share the same environment and are inextricably linked

Human biology is very much like that of many other animals. That is why results from animal experiments apply to people. Most laboratory animals have the same set of organs – heart, lungs, liver, etc which work in the same way as they do in humans. Animals can be used role models for safety testing of chemicals and drugs, study of genetic disorders, development of new diagnostic tests for diseases in biology and medical education.

In my opinion, the use of animals such as dog is more advantageous than small animals like rat or mouse the fact being that the large animals are similar to human beings in their physiology and anatomy, and techniques of microsurgery are not necessary to carry out determinate experiments. As we know liver transplantation is an established technique for both acute and chronic liver failure. However, graft dysfunction remains a problem affecting many of the recipients, despite reports of good to excellent long-term outcome. As reported by Sergi 2012, the use of the canine liver transplantation model seems to allow a better vascular perfusion under ex- vivo conditions in contrast to the rat model. History dates that the first experimental attempt for liver transplantation was reported in dogs, in the year 1955, by Welch. The liver is one of the organs with an incredible capacity for in-vivo tissue engineering which allow restoration of the liver architecture and reestablishment of certain vital functions. The study of liver regeneration in humans arise ethical issues, & it is difficult to carry out because of a plethora of heterogeneous liver lesions. Accordingly, using experimental animal models is more useful and helpful for studying liver regeneration. 

The development of treatment methods for diabetes mellitus is the principal example which manifests that medical progress is indistinguishably linked with basic animal research. Experiments on lab animals helped to understand the effect of insulin on blood sugar levels and thus contributed to the development of new therapies. 

Naturally occurring bladder cancer in dogs very closely resemble human bladder cancer, and also mimic biological behavior, including frequency of metastasis, sites and response to therapy  thus experiments on dogs can improve earlier detection and intervention, prediction of patient outcome, and more effective management overall. Every year innumerable people are diagnosed with urinary bladder cancer and certainly research with canines could lead to better diagnostics and innovative treatments like immunotherapy for bladder cancer in both canine and human patients (Deborah 2014). As far as studies in cardiovascular surgery is concerned dogs develop cardiac problems like those experienced by human, and play a major role in the development of surgical procedures for heart valve and artery replacement and angioplasty etc. Allen 2014 reported that for testing stents which prevent the recurrence of arterial narrowing the canine aorta is apropos model for the study.  Apart from cardiovascular surgery, dogs have been successfully and extensively used in orthopaedics in studies of fracture, bone defect, prosthetic infections, development of prosthetic devices for hip & knee replacements, tendon & ligament repair, osteomylitis, osteoporosis in older dogs, osteoarthritis, cartilage biology & various spinal procedures. The fact being dog is a higher level vertebrate and probably has the closest in vivo conditions to the human (yeuhuei 2015).  As per study reports of  Hugen 2016  it documents that the canine gastric carcinoma may serve as a valuable model for human gastric carcinoma because of similarities in diagnosis, histology, clinical presentation, and prognosis of the disease.  

Animals and human share many important allergic diseases, and animals have proven to be the key to upgrade our understanding on the mechanisms involved across species for the mutual benefit of people and animals. Animals and human share the same environment and are inextricably linked. Dogs, in particular, suffer from environmental skin allergies and develop a clinical disposition which is very similar to dermatitis and eczema. Thus, dogs are a very handy species to improve our understanding on the mechanisms involved in human allergies and hypersensitivity reactions (Robert 2018).

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Animal research has a central role in many scientific and medical advances of the past century and continues to support our comprehensions about various diseases. Throughout the world, people enjoy a better quality of life because of these advances, and the subsequent development of new medicines and treatments which is made possible by animal research.For any biomedical research on animals, humane consideration for the well being of the animal should be engulfed into the design and conduct of all procedures and the experimental animals must be managed and cared under the blanket of uniform acceptable standards in facilities designed for animal holding, in caging which provides for comfort and safety. 


Author is Veterinary Assistant Surgeon, Govt. of J &K (Mvsc. Surgery)