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Clin Anat. 2016 Jan;29(1):19-24. doi: 10.1002/ca.22642. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

The use of animal tissues alongside human tissue: Cultural and ethical considerations.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Teaching and research facilities often use cadaveric material alongside animal tissues, although there appear to be differences in the way we handle, treat, and dispose of human cadaveric material compared to animal tissue. This study sought to analyze cultural and ethical considerations and provides policy recommendations on the use of animal tissues alongside human tissue. The status of human and animal remains and the respect because of human and animal tissues were compared and analyzed from ethical, legal, and cultural perspectives. The use of animal organs and tissues is carried out within the context of understanding human anatomy and function. Consequently, the interests of human donors are to be pre-eminent in any policies that are enunciated, so that if any donors find the presence of animal remains unacceptable, the latter should not be employed. The major differences appear to lie in differences in our perceptions of their respective intrinsic and instrumental values. Animals are considered to have lesser intrinsic value and greater instrumental value than humans. These differences stem from the role played by culture and ethical considerations, and are manifested in the resulting legal frameworks. In light of this discussion, six policy recommendations are proposed, encompassing the nature of consent, respect for animal tissues as well as human remains, and appropriate separation of both sets of tissues in preparation and display.


altruism; ethics; human and animal tissues; intrinsic and instrumental values; medical education

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