The role of animals in stem cell research
For medical research, as well as for research that explores the basic process in the development of organisms and diseases, scientists often rely on animals. Implanting human cells into animals such as mice has long been common practice in order to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, procedures, and medical devices before clinical testing in human volunteers. For stem cell research, scientists use animals to make sure the stem cells are able to incorporate into the tissue, do not cause any harmful consequences, and function in concert with the rest of the body. For example, before using stem cells to replace the pancreatic cells that are destroyed by type I diabetes in humans, scientists will transplant human stem cells into a mouse to see whether the stem cells yield healthy, insulin-producing cells. If their methods prove successful in mice, scientists may eventually apply the technology to developing treatments for diabetes in humans.