Foundation for Biomedical Research: the Changing Course of Heart Disease

Published: 2021-09-13 08:35:09
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Category: Health Care, Human Body, Illness

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The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) was established in 1981 and is the United States of America’s “most experienced, trusted and effective non-profit [organisation] dedicated to improving human and animal health by promoting public understanding and support for biomedical research.” Together with its partner organisation the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) they are dedicated to advancing animal and human health through animal research. It is a reliable source as it is trusted by the United States government and it is governed by a board of directors which are a consortium of very highly regarded and respected men and woman that have achieved exceptionally well in their chosen fields. The author of this publication Dr David Korn is one of the board of directors for FBR and is a Consultant in Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “During his career, he has served as Inaugural Vice-Provost for Research, Harvard University; Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges; Professor and Founding Chair of Pathology, then Dean of Medicine and VP of Stanford University. From 1984-91, he was Chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board, a Presidential appointment. He has authored more than 150 publications.” His publication “The Changing Course of Heart Disease” is aimed at the general public with a demographic focus of above 16 years of age. Targeting those who are interested in learning more about the lifesaving devices that have been made available for those suffering from CVD that were made possible by animal testing and research.
Nearly every medical breakthrough in human and animal health has resulted directly from research using animals. “The use of animals in research is essential to the development of new and more effective methods for diagnosing and treating diseases that affect both humans and animals. Scientists use animals to learn more about health problems, and to assure the safety of new medical treatments. ” It is essential that scientists understand the illness, disease, pathogen etc. before they can begin to develop cures and treatments. Some diseases and illnesses involve practices which can only be studied in living organisms which is why animal research is essential. Animals are used in research for a variety of reasons. They are biologically similar to humans, with mice sharing over 95% of DNA with humans and chimpanzees more than 99%. This means that they are affected by many of the same diseases and illnesses that affect humans such as cancer, kidney failure, blood clots etc. Most animals that are used in research are purpose bred and genetically identical which enables researchers to compare different methods and so they can control variables which would be near impossible to control in human subjects. Animals can be fed identical diets and researchers can easily control and keep factors such as temperature, housing, exercise constant. They also have significantly shorter life spans than humans with mice which are most commonly researched on having an average laboratory lifespan of approximately two years. Dr Korn is for animal research as he believes that without animal testing and research many of the lifesaving devices that have been made available for those suffering from illnesses such as CVD would not have been made possible. The first mentioned being is the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which is a device which “temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the patient’s body” and allows for a bloodless field during cardiac surgery. Before the cardiopulmonary bypass device was invented it was nearly impossible to preform heart surgery. The first forays that lead to producing a cardiopulmonary bypass machine began in the 1930s by Charles Lindbergh and Alexis Carrel. They created a perfusion pump which enabled the body to sustain heat during open heart surgery. The research that they had conducted had meant that they were able to keep the organs of cats and birds alive for up to 21 days. This research was the foundation to many other medical innovations such as the roller pump which was invented by Michael E. DeBakey shortly after the creation of the perfusion pump. The roller pump is a device that helps to provide continuous blood flow during operations and was a crucial component in creating the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. In 1937 John Gibbon the creator of the cardiopulmonary machine successfully created models which could keep several cats alive for more than a week after preforming heart surgery. With the help of Thomas Watson, he then was able to successfully conduct the same research on dogs, where 9 out of the 10 dogs operated on survived. Later in 1953 he performed the first successful open-heart surgery on an 18-year-old woman using the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. “Since then, CPB has given doctors the opportunity to perform surgeries that would have otherwise been too dangerous or impossible and given people a second chance at life.”
The second device that was made possible by research conducted on animals is the artificial heart. Artificial hearts are vital devices for those suffering with severe heart conditions who otherwise wouldn’t be able to survive while waiting for a donor heart. The demand for organ transplantation has significantly increased worldwide over the past decade and without this device hundreds of thousands of people would have passed. The first artificial heart was created in 1937 by Vladimir Demikhov and was experimented on in a dog. But it wasn’t until 20 years later in 1957 when Dr Willem Kolff and Dr Tetsuzo Akutsu created and were able to implant the first successful artificial heart into a dog which lived for an hour and a half after the operation. Continuing his research in 1971, Kolff and his team commenced there research on artificial hearts in calves at the University of Utah and lead to a calf surviving on an artificial heart for 268 days after the operation.
The third device that was mentioned were artificial heart valves. “Artificial heart valves are devices used to replace natural valves when there is a serious defect, like a congenital malformation or infection, which can result in heart failure or stroke.” These valves could either be mechanical and made from materials such as pyrolytic carbon or titanium or they could be biological and made from the cardiac tissue of large non-primates such as pigs, cows and horses. With the invention of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine mentioned above, surgeons were able to safely able to preform open heart surgery. This made it possible to replace defective heart valves. In the late 1950’s after the cardiopulmonary bypass machine had been invented the first successful mechanical artificial heart valve was created by Lowell Edwards and Albert Starr and began testing it in dogs. There artificial heart valves -ball and cage design- worked well in dogs and then also in clinical trials, however, they discovered that there device was prone to blood clots and that those operated on would have to take blood thinning medication for the rest of there lives. Later in the 1960s Alain Carpentier, began to investigate biological heart valves using cardiac animal tissue mainly from pigs as it would remove the need for blood thinners. In 1986 Carpentier preformed the first successful artificial heart transplant.
Lastly, the last device mentioned by Korn is the artificial cardiac pacemaker which is a small device which generates electrical impulses that are delivered by electrodes which contract the muscles of the heart and regulates the heartbeat. “The pacemaker has been incredibly important for those who need it in the short term or long term – whether they’re walking on two legs or four.” The first electrical pacemaker was created in 1949 by John Hopps an electrical engineer which was tested in rabbits and dogs. This lead to the accidental discovery of an implantable pacemaker by Wilson Greatbatch who mistakenly put the incorrect sized resistor into a heart rhythm recording device, which resulted heartbeat like pulses. With a few adjustments in making the device smaller he was able control a dog’s heartbeat.
Conclusively, over the past fifty years, ways of treating and managing those with cardiovascular disease have come a long way and are continuing to improve with every day. Korn is a strong believer that without the contributions that animals have made to the development and testing of these devices many of them would not have been possible. And for many humans and other animals, animal research has meant the difference between life and death. Dr Korn’s publication is a reliable and trustworthy source as he backs up all his statements for animal testing with valid facts and scientific studies. He is bias towards animal testing as he believes it is a crucial component to advancing medicine however, he state’s his opinion in ways that are backed up with relevant research and facts that prove the points that he is raising. He however, does not have any research from recent studies carried out in the 21st that have involved animal testing and have improved the prospects for those suffering from cardiovascular disease. Korn has a long history in medicine which provides him with insider knowledge that help shape his well-informed opinion for being for animal testing as he first hands sees the benefits that are reaped from it. His background is also what makes him bias towards animal research as he was brought up in the 19th century where there were little to none other alternatives to animals testing to forward medicine. The Foundation for Biomedical Research is a is the United States of America’s “most experienced, trusted and effective non-profit [organisation] dedicated to improving human and animal health by promoting public understanding and support for biomedical research.” The FBR would not be Americas most trusted and reliable organisation promoting animal testing if there publications and organisation were not trustworthy and did not provide reliable and relevant factual information. Therefore, this source is valid and presents me with reliable information that I can use to help shape my opinion of whether I am for or against using animal research to treat illnesses such as cardiovascular disease in New Zealand and the wider world.

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