Editorial: Tissue donations can benefit science, animals - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Tissue donations can benefit science, animals

Using what is otherwise considered biomedical waste to potentially reduce live animal testing? That sounds like a win-win proposition.

The Albuquerque City Council recently unanimously approved legislation directing the city’s Animal Welfare Department to collect reproductive tissue removed at its animal spay-and-neuter clinics and donate it to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. The city has long considered the animal tissue biomedical waste and discarded it.

But it could instead be used to create in-vitro cell culture models as an alternative to testing chemicals on live animals, greatly reducing the use of animals in laboratory research.

UNM School of Nursing professor and researcher Xiaozhong (John) Yu says if researchers can demonstrate the tissue can create a viable replacement to live animals, it could spare animals, make testing more efficient and allow the study of more chemicals.

That sounds like a win all the way around, without much hassle, as bill sponsor Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn explains.

And there’s a tremendous amount of animal reproductive tissue available every year from the city, which conducted 9,966 spay and neuter sterilization procedures on its shelter animals last year.

“It’s such an easy thing,” Fiebelkorn said. “Those tissues were just going to be thrown away.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to eliminate animal testing in its research by 2035. Aiding science to potentially reduce and replace animal testing with other methods is a move in the right direction. Scientific advancements and basic empathy for other living beings do not have to be mutually exclusive goals.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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