Introduction

Most of our basic knowledge of human biochemistry, physiology, endocrinology, and pharmacology has been derived from initial studies of mechanisms in animal models.1 Throughout history, scientists have performed experiments on animals with the aim of obtaining knowledge of animal and human biological structure and function (see, e.g., Held;2 Loew3). Often such studies have not been and are not possible in the human. This may be due to ethical or religious considerations, but often practical, economic, and scientific reasons make initial studies in animals the best solution to studies of a biological phenomenon.

Laboratory animal science may be defined as the study of the scientific, ethical, and legal use of animals in biomedical research, that is, a multidisciplinary field encompassing biological and pathobiological specialties for the optimal scientific use of animals as models for humans or other species.

Basic laboratory animal science is concerned with the quality of animals as sentient tools in biomedical research. It encompasses comparative biology of laboratory animals, technical aspects of breeding, housing and husbandry, anesthesia, euthanasia, and experimental techniques. Laboratory animal medicine is a veterinary specialty, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases in animals used as subjects in biomedical activities. High-quality animals and animal care ensure the highest possible health and welfare status of the animals and are prerequisites for good science and public acceptance of the use of animals in research.

Volume I of this handbook is an introduction to basic laboratory animal science, whereas the present volume focuses on applied laboratory animal science, which is the use of animals as models for humans — or in some instances as models for other species.

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