Animal Models
Animal Models

Animal Models

From the earliest days of recorded history, humans have sought to understand the workings of the human body and the origins of health and disease. For centuries, experimentation on humans themselves was forbidden.

Today, stringent controls on research using human subjects remain, although ethical research is permitted and supported. In most cases, medical studies using nonhuman species precede clinical trials using people. Testing medications, surgical procedures, and devices such as pacemakers for safety and effectiveness in animals can help identify the risks of harm and determine likelihood of benefit for human subjects.

In the field of aging, nonhuman organisms can serve as models of the aging process. From these models, scientists hope to better understand what happens to people at the cellular and molecular level as they grow older. Humans themselves make difficult subjects for study in this field because their natural lifespan is so long that it's impractical to follow them from birth to old age. However, simple organisms -- such as baker's yeast -- can yield a great deal of data about aging in a much briefer time period, and the information is surprisingly applicable to more evolved species, such as ourselves.

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