The promise and consequences of translational research: the ethical implications of using pets as research subjects in comparative medicine
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The failure of so many promising candidate therapies to translate from laboratory animal models to human subjects has turned a spotlight on the use of pets as a potential solution to this problem. Biomedical research and industry has long recognized the potential of pets as an answer and the popularization of One Health concept has reinforced this idea. Since pet species spontaneously develop many of the same cancers and chronic illnesses that people do, it's an easy leap to make. The current regulatory framework for the use of animals in pre-clinical and clinical research doesn't clearly distinguish laboratory animals from people's pets. This situation streamlines regulatory obstacles and benefits industry economically but leaves pets unprotected in some fundamental ways. This presentation will explain the current status of the use of pets in biomedical research, detail the ethical implications of gaps in the regulatory framework and propose some solutions to those gaps.