A new simulator could put an end to military and Royal Navy live tests on pigs and other animals.
Developed by a UK scientist, the simulator is designed to replace the need for “slow and costly” animal testing for treatments of lung injuries. The tests usually focus on injuries caused by exposure to the supersonic shock waves that radiate from explosions.
Dr. Mainul Haque from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Mathematics and Physics developed the simulator in collaboration with Royal Navy Intensive Care consultant Timothy Scott.
Until now, military testing has used pigs and other animals to simulate how these shock waves affect the body, and how best to treat subsequent injuries. However, as has been pointed out by animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), pigs and humans are very different.
PETA has reported in the past that even U.S. army officials have admitted that “there still is no evidence that [live tissue training on animals] saves lives.”
Dr. Haque explained the benefits of using a simulator instead of living animals to Medical Device Network. He said, “A computerised model allows us to run as many treatment trials as we need to for any type of scenario.”
Crucially, experiments can be run “without the need for live animal research.”
Scott pointed out in a separate study that a simulator is not only cheaper, it also “requires less stringent ethical approval”
He added it could also “accommodate scenarios that are unachievable in live animal or human research, such as multiple casualties with multiple injury events.”
The new technology extends beyond the simulation of casualties. It can also predict how human bodies react to the internal accumulation of fluid, which is often fatal as it can go undetected.
Military Animal Testing Around The World
The idea of using simulators in military experiments is not new.
In 2017, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., introduced an anti-animal testing bill. The Washington Examiner reported the bill would “require the military to use only “human-based methods” to train service members.”
Johnson echoed the understanding that simulations are altogether more cost-effective. He said, “It may cost more for a simulator than for a live animal in terms of initial outlay.”
Johnson added, “you can only use that animal once, you can use the simulator repeatedly. So over the course of time, it’s better.”
In 2014, the Norwegian Animal Research Agency (NARA) rejected a request from the Norwegian military to use animals in training exercises. It was the first time in the agency’s history such a rejection had been made.