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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Abstract of "Animal Testing and Clinical Trials for the Subdural Hybrid Neuroprosthesis: Ethical Aspects in the Context of Human History"
Department of Neurology, NYU School of Medicine, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York, NY 10016
My team has been working, in cooperation with the FDA, on the development of a subdural hybrid neuroprosthesis for the feed-back-controlled, localized pharmacological treatment of drug-resistant and surgically untreatable neocortical epilepsy, stroke, and tumor. The clinical trials for this emerging device should be preceded with extensive animal tests so that the device can be perfected to the level that assures no harm to the patients enrolled in these clinical trials. Yet, this very principle, the foundation on which modern medicine has been built by the ingenuity, hard work and sacrifice of scientists, physicians, and engineers, who used animal experimentation to advance medicine safely and rationally, is now being questioned more than ever by an increasing number of philosophers, ethicists, and artists, as the interconnectedness of humans with their environment, including the animal kingdom, and, as a consequence, the responsibility of mankind toward this environment, has become more obvious in the light of new scientific discoveries than in previous centuries with the tools of religion. We will present the argument that the ethical aspects of animal experimentation in medical device testing can be examined correctly only if one places this problem in the context of human history, so that it can be recognized that (i) there is an unceasing force in history that compels mankind to decode the laws of the universe, including those that produced the brain, partly, to make improvements on this organ and eliminate its diseases, with implanted devices, if necessary, and (ii) if this is true, then animal experimentation, since it is absolutely necessary for understanding the complex interactions between the brain and an intracranially implanted therapeutic device, must be in harmony with the very historic force that presses mankind to acquire knowledge.
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