Animal Experimentation 


Rodents such as rats and mice have been used in medical research for over 150 years. One could even argue that rodents are a linchpin to the medical marvels and advances we have today. Naturally, many countries have adopted laws or guidelines for the proper use and treatment of laboratory animals. Some widely accepted animal-rights regulations include requirements that the use of laboratory animals should be necessary, the animal should not experience undue or unnecessary pain or suffering, and science and humanity will benefit from the research. China is the world’s largest producer of scientific research. Recently a team of Chinese scientists broke ground on a transformational question: Can a male gestate a fetus? To answer this question scientists used forty-six pairs of rats. Each rat pair consisted of a castrated male and a healthy female. The rats were surgically conjoined to share the same bloodstream and hormones. Eight week later the uteri of the female rats were transplanted into the conjoined male counterpart. After another eight weeks, embryos were implanted into the transplanted uteri. A total of 842 embryos were used across the forty-six pairs of rats resulting in a grand total of only ten rat cubs which survived until adulthood. At the end of the study, all of the rats were euthanized. Results suggest that it is possible for a male to carry a fetus full term, but the likelihood of a live healthy birth is less than 4 percent. Reaction, both pro and con, to the research has been strong. In fact, the authors of the study at first requested to retract the manuscript but then rescinded the retraction request. When asked about their work, the research team responded in part by saying, “to be honest, we did nothing wrong, just performed animal experiments.” They added, “we are just ordinary scientific 6 researchers who do experiments. We also plead to the outside world not to bring issues other than scientific problems into scientific research.” The research team viewed the science as a step forward in better understanding reproductive biology, claiming that the data suggests a fetus can only develop when pregnancy hormones are in the blood. Some groups think this could be a step forward for transgender rights by eventually providing an option for males and transgender women to receive a donor uterus and carry a child to full term.


(1)          Was this experiment ethical?