Ethical Issue Analysis
Can you please use the three criteria which are ideals, obligations, and consequences to analyze the attached article.
Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are genetically modifying mice in order to make them mentally ill. Dr. Jacqueline Crawley and her colleagues are searching for an animal model for schizophrenia. If they can create “schizophrenic mice” then they can test promising new medications without risking the health of human subjects.
Most pharmaceuticals are initially tested on animals. A candidate for a new medication may look promising in the test tube, only to have dangerous or fatal side-effects in animals. In an ideal world, only chemicals that prove safe and effective in animals will be tested in humans. Since animals don’t get schizophrenia, we can currently test whether a new drug candidate is safe in animals, but we can’t determine whether it is effective. If scientists succeed in creating schizophrenic mice, then new medications can be developed more quickly in some cases.
Crawley’s lab has already succeeded in creating anxious mice and depressed mice. They have had some initial success creating mice which demonstrate one symptom of schizophrenia – the tendency to flinch even when they know that a loud noise is coming. Initial results suggest that antipsychotic medications that are used to treat schizophrenia also help suppress this tendency to flinch in mice.
Is it ethical to genetically engineer mice in order to give them a disorder that resembles schizophrenia? Most scientists believe that it is. Animal research of this sort saves human lives and helps us find new treatment for disabling mental disorders. Animal rights activists disagree with this position. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) believe that all animal research is unethical.
There is certainly room for disagreement here, but most countries allow – and even support – such research. Such research may pay huge dividends in the future, and I believe that it is ethical to conduct it. Reasonable people may disagree on this issue, of course.