As if animal exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry was not bad enough (bear bile factories, anyone?), medical researchers supported by the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Program and the University of Arizona have now announced that sloth fur could be the next big cure for breast cancer, as well as several other diseases.
According to Douglas Main of Popular Science, the scientists found that chemicals excreted by microbes in sloth fur, especially from the brown-throated three-toed sloth “had potent activity against a host of human pathogens, and even breast cancer cells, and possess anti-malaria and antibacterial properties.”
The particular sloth-fur chemicals of interest to the researchers were the cyanobacteria that “have been known to cover [the sloths’] coats, coloring them green and potentially helping them blend into the rainforests of Central America that they call home.” But could these bacteria become used as a widespread cure for breast cancer, or is this just a flash-in-the-pan idea?
This remains to be seen. Douglas Main points out that the brown-throated sloths in question “are relatively little studied and not exactly easy to procure for you average researcher – the three-toed sloths (bradypus variegatus) used in this study were found in a Panamanian nature reserve.”
While nobody is disputing the fact that the rising incidence of breast cancer is a critical issue that must be addressed, is harvesting the fur of peaceful sloths really the best solution?
The New England Anti-Vivisection Society says that many humane alternatives to animal testing exist, and that “humane science is superior science.” If sloth fur factories are launched in the neear future for medical reasons, will these animals, like so many other innocent creatures who are exploited in research facilities, be used and abused as doctors see fit?
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