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Humanity's Rising Debt to Medical Research

LORD WAVERLEY, in declaring the meeting open, said that the Society was privileged to hear a discourse by a very old friend of his, Sir Henry Dale, and he could testify from personal knowledge dating back to the outbreak of the 1914/1918 war that there is no man alive better qualified to address the Society on the subject Sir Henry had chosen, namely “Humanity's Rising Debt to Medical Research.” He was sure all present were familiar with Sir Henry Dale's distinguished career; he was for many years Director of the National Institute for Medical Research, which was established in the early years of this century.

Sir Henry Dale then delivered his Lecture.


Humanity's Rising Debt to Medical Research



Rather more than twenty-four years have passed since the earlier occasion on which I had the honour of lecturing to the Research Defence Society in commemoration of its founder, Stephen Paget; and I am deeply sensible to-day of what I believe to be, so far, the singular honour which has come to me, in being invited to lecture again on the same memorial foundation—to give a second Stephen Paget Memorial Lecture. Let me say at once that I accepted the invitation with a pleasure which had even a touch of eagerness; for I have very precious memories of Stephen Paget's most endearing personality, and especially of the selfless devotion with which, in his later years, he gave the whole of his effort and interest, to the sacrifice of his health, and, in the end of his life, to the defence of medical research, for which he founded this Society. In my earlier lecture in 1931 I referred to the fact, of which we can hardly be too often reminded here, that Paget had no personal or professional advantage of any kind to gain in founding this Society, and in thus giving to its cause "the last full measure of devotion." He had no direct interest of his own to serve, no research project of his own to promote or to defend. He was inspired simply by a strong passion for the truth, and by a hatred for what he recognized as an essentially cruel attack upon scientific researches more directly humane than most in their aims, as well as in their results.


Paget toured the country in 1914 to counteract the attempt to persuade the men of the then new armies to refuse the protective inoculation against the enteric fevers. That particular cruelty was defeated, so that there was no repetition of the tragedy which had overtaken the armies inSouth Africa, for lack of such protection. Paget's health, however, was irre­parably broken by his campaign, conducted in all kinds of weather, often in the open air, as he shouted his convictions to audiences of soldiers;

but the cause which he defended, that of medical researches and of the life-saving applications of the new knowledge which they can offer, has flourished beyond any expectation or hope which Paget could have cherished. If we could tell him what has happened since he died, he would surely rejoice to learn how the new knowledge which research has yielded in these later years has been bringing under an ever more effective control, so that it can now be classed as a curable condition, the tubercular infection of his weakened throat, which for him had meant the signature of his death-warrant. He would learn, with what joy we may imagine, of the other new directions, becoming now far too numerous for even a passing mention of them all, in which medical research has been able to penetrate to a deeper understanding of the nature of many diseases, to devise new methods by which they can be more readily and clearly recognized and more effectively prevented, and to produce new remedies for the cure, the control, or the allevia­tion of those for which prevention is not yet in sight—remedies of a new order of efficacy, and in number and variety of an almost embarrassing profusion. But Stephen Paget would learn also, with sorrow and with a righteous anger, that the impressive spectacle of these beneficent achievements of medical research has not put an end to the cruel cam­paign of misrepresentation and obstruction, in the fight against which he himself had fallen.


Paget would learn, alas, that those responsible for this campaign are still not satisfied with the attempt to hinder the properly controlled and essentially humane use of animals, for experi­ments without which this advancement of knowledge would be halted; that they still go even to the length of trying to prevent the use of the knowledge which such experiments have already yielded, for the saving of life and the prevention of sickness and suffering. "The winning of this knowledge, or the testing of these remedies," they seem to argue, “has involved the use of animals, in experiments which we assume to have caused them pain; and therefore we shall do our best to prevent the use of the resulting methods for the preven­tion of death or suffering in our fellow men, or, indeed, in their fellow animals." It must be sufficiently clear, I think, that such an attitude cannot be maintained, with any approach to a logical consistency, by anybody who accepts any kind of advantage from the practice of medicine as it is to-day. Medical knowledge, indeed,  has owed  essential  features  of its permanent structure to experiments involving the use of animals, ever since William Harvey laid its first scientific foundation; and to-day it must become ever more difficult to accept any effective service from medicine, without accepting at every turn the applications of knowledge directly arising, or less directly derived, from such experiments. Under these conditions, one can feel a measure of respect for the sincere effort to be logical, which is made by those whose imaginative sympathies lead them to reject medical service altogether, and to exclude all animal products from their food or their clothing; though even such peculiar people as these must be prepared, I think, to answer a charge of cruelty by omission, when they refuse the chance of survival, or of the relief of pain, which medical aid could offer to children and others for whose care they are responsible.


What are we to think, however, of those who, without any pretension to so fanatical a consistency, are nevertheless active in the attempt to persuade or to frighten the ignorant into refusing for themselves, or, which is worse, for their children, the means of protection against dangers to which those who conduct this cruel campaign are themselves not likely to be exposed? When I lectured to this Society in 1931, the results of the active protection against diphtheria and tetanus, by inoculation with the inactivated toxins of the respective bacteria, were not yet available for citation. Only a few years later, however, very con­vincing evidence of the success of the inocula­tion against diphtheria could have been pre­sented. The record of its application in Hamilton, one of the larger cities of theProvinceofOntario, was one which was early made thus available. For twenty years up to 1925 the population of Hamilton, and its schoolchildren, of course, in particular, had shown the incidence of diphtheria, and the death-rate from it, which were usual in such a community at that period, when the antitoxin treatment could already save, and had already saved, the lives of those smitten with the disease, though only if they received it early enough: but when little could yet be done to prevent the occurrence and spread of the infection. It was therefore still a serious peril to child life, fluctuating from year to year in its severity, but with no sugges­tion of a steady or an overall decline. Then, in 1925, the systematic inoculation of the children was begun inHamilton, and the effect was dramatic. So steeply did the curve fall, that after 1930 there were no more deaths from diphtheria inHamilton, and after 1933, when the inoculation had been in effective action for eight years, there were no more cases. This achievement was repeated in one after another of the centres of population on the North American Continent, leaving no room for doubt that, wherever the preventive inoculation of children could be fully applied and maintained, diphtheria could be, and had been, completely abolished.


For some years we still had cause for dis­satisfaction in Britain, in the thought that it was necessary thus to go to other countries to find examples of such really effective applica­tions of this method of dealing with the diph­theria problem; whereas the progressive improvement of the reagents used for the inoculation had in fact been largely due to the researches of our own countrymen. It was not till 1940 that our own Ministry of Health found it practicable to inaugurate a full-scale undertaking, with the preventive inoculation of all children as its aim; and this was not fully under way till 1942. Immediately, however, the enemies of medical research launched a counter-campaign, to induce timid mothers to refuse the protection for their children. Their effort was less successful than we might have feared, or than they must be supposed to have hoped. In 1940 there were still inEnglandmore than 45,000 cases of diphtheria, and more than 2,400 of these were fatal. Then, with the inoculation becoming effective, the numbers fell steeply and steadily, until in the last full year, 1954, there were only 173 cases, and only nine deaths from the disease. The figures are even more significant if we analyse them a little more closely, and make allowance for the fact that the protective action of an inoculation cannot be expected to be fully effective for an indefinitely long period. Of the nine deaths recorded in 1954, six were in children under 15, and all of these occurred in the minority who had not been inoculated; and, indeed, among all the children of any age who had received the inoculation within the last five years there were no deaths in 1954.


The value of preventive inoculation against tetanus is a more recent discovery, and to the development of the method we may again be glad to, recognize that British work has made an out­standing contribution. Fortunately, arrange­ments had been made in advance for this active immunization of the armies of the second World War: for earlier experience had left no doubt concerning the special danger of tetanus from soil-contaminated war wounds in men who had not been thus protected. Here again, however, there was an organized effort to persuade the soldiers to avail themselves of a legal right to refuse this protection. Those who conducted this campaign disap­proved, presumably, of the methods by which the preventive treatment had been discovered, or those by which the efficacy and safety of the inoculum were being controlled. There was an early and a tragic opportunity for testing the results. The British Expeditionary Force, which was brought back from Dunkirk in 1940, had, as we all know, fought a gruelling rear-guard action over soil which experience of the previous war, as well as the Franco-Prussian war and others, had shown to be highly dangerous as a source of the tetanus infection; and they had been transported home under conditions which made inevitable a long delay in the proper cleansing and dressing of their wounds. Yet, in the more than 16,000 who were wounded in that army, there were only seven cases of tetanus: and these cases were all in men of the ten per cent who had been persuaded to refuse the protective inoculation; among the ninety per cent who had been inoculated there was no tetanus; and so the records continued for the rest of the war. Those for the Mediter­ranean campaign, starting inCairoand going along North Africa toTunis, give an opportunity for comparing the experience of the South African troops, who had not been inoculated, with that of the Australian and British troops, who had. Among less than 4,000 South African wounded there were five cases of tetanus, while among more than 8,000 Australian wounded there were none, and among more than 27,000 British there was only one, in a man whose receipt of the immunization was doubtful.


In so far, then, as the campaigns of persuasion to refuse inoculation have been successful, those who have conducted them cannot, I think, escape the responsibility for agonizing deaths of children in diphtheria, and of soldiers in tetanus, which could clearly have been prevented. These people have been led, no doubt, to take such action by a fantastically exaggerated conception of the suffering inflicted on animals, in the preparation of the protective reagents—in reality no more now than quite trivial effects, terminable under the law if they should even threaten to become more than that. These people probably credit themselves with an uncommonly acute sensitiveness to the idea of pain in any living creature. I do not think that we ought to suspect them of being con­sciously or deliberately cruel, but only of having so completely lost all sense of balance in their imaginative sympathies, that their concern for the assumed possibility of pain in a few guinea-pigs and mice has involved them in actions which have had, as a direct result, real and hideous suffering and death to members of their own human species.


These people have not been consistent, even in this apparent priority of concern for the sufferings of their dumb friends over those of their fellow men. It is now more than thirty years since we, who were then working in the National Institute for Medical Research, were asked by the Medical Research Council to take part in a general scheme of research on the problem of the diseases due to the so-called ultramicroscopic virus, which was then rather a new subject. We chose dog-distemper for investigation, as a disease almost certainly due to one of these subtle agents, and one for which the discovery of an effective treatment, or, still better, of a method of prevention, would be of inestimable benefit to dogs, as well as to the human owners and lovers of dogs. In due course my late colleagues, Sir Patrick Laidlaw and Mr. G. W. Dunkin, elaborated a method of preventive inoculation, which was not only effective in protecting dogs from distemper, but, since it broke new ground, gave a lead in certain directions to the search for methods of immunization against other diseases due to virus infections, of men as well as of other animals. The method of conferring immunity against distemper was, in its turn, greatly improved and simplified, by the aid of experi­ence gained in the study of other viruses; so that the material for the inoculum, or vaccine, now successfully used for immunizing dogs, not only against the classical, respiratory distemper, but against the crippling condition known as "hard pad," due to another strain of the same virus, is no longer obtained from infected dogs and ferrets, but from cultures of the virus on incubated eggs, containing chicken embryos. One might have supposed that the possibility thus offered of saving dogs from an infection which had been so notoriously danger­ous to them, would have been enthusiastically welcomed by any rational person concerned for their welfare. Again, however, from the time the preventive treatment first became avail­able, even to the present day, there has been a persistent campaign to induce owners to refuse this protection for their dogs; and this cam­paign has been organized, one must suppose, by people who would prefer that all young dogs should remain, as before, susceptible to the naturally transmitted disease, with all the danger and the suffering which it involves, rather than that a few should be artificially and scientifically infected to provide material for a vaccine, or to test, as at present, its effectiveness, so that the whole canine com­munity can be protected. Even the interests of dogs, it appears, are to be outweighed by the determination to suspect and to oppose the use, for their benefit, of any treatment which bears the stigmata of medical, or even of veterinary research.


Yet, when there is any question of a priority in appeal, these perverse zoophilists are moved with much greater readiness by the assumed sufferings of lower animal species, than by the real and unquestionable sufferings of their fellow human beings. Two years ago I officiated at the opening of a new Institute of Physiology in Toronto, built in the honour, and for the use of the present Professor, Charles H. Best, whose work with Frederick Banting opened a new door to life, health and happi­ness to some millions of sufferers from diabetes. ATorontolady, with her mind fixed upon her conception of the sufferings of a few dogs, which had been used in making that supremely humane discovery, waited for Professor Best and me, with a bag of pepper to throw into our eyes. Balked of her prey, she threw it into the eyes of the policeman who had frustrated her merciful errand, so that he had to be removed in great pain to the hospital. The stern parent or schoolmaster of the Vic­torian period, when he thought it his duty to chastise his offspring or his pupils used traditionally to claim that he was "cruel only to be kind." We need not suppose, on the contrary, that these enemies of medical research are being kind, according to their own ideas of kindness, with a deliberate intention "only to be cruel." It is enough for us to recognize, as the inevitable consequence of their activities, a cruelty which is none the less detestable because it originates in blind and self-indulgent emotion.


I turn, with some relief, from this tiresome but essentially ineffective opposition and mis­representation, which medical research still encounters, and from which we are here to defend medical research, to glance at the im­pressive spectacle of the new and invaluable knowledge which it is offering in growing abundance for the use of mankind, and creating thereby what I have ventured to call " Human­ity's Rising Debt to Medical Research." Though I can attempt no more in a lecture than to quote a few illustrative examples, and though these, as in my earlier lecture, will most easily be found in some of the spectacular gifts made by medical research to practical therapeutics, I must make clear and indeed emphasize my own conviction, that the contributions which have been and are being made, by physio­logical and pathological researches in general, to the foundations and the entire fabric of medical knowledge, and the consequent acquisi­tion by clinical medicine and surgery of an increasingly progressive and experimental character—that these general changes are at least as important as those which lend them­selves more easily to illustration, by the citation of particular achievements in this co-ordinated advance on a wide front. You cannot, in fact, move anywhere in modern medicine without the use of knowledge produced by experimental researches, in a large proportion of which it has been necessary to make some use of experiments on living animals.


Let us look, then, at a few only of the medical discoveries, outstanding in practical as well as in scientific importance, which have been made or have received a general application since I lectured in 1931 to this Society. My only reference then to a specific chemotherapeutic remedy for an infection was to salvarsan, which had been introduced in about 1911. That was, indeed, the first great practical achievement of the late Paul Ehrlich's new scheme of research which he entitled "chemotherapy." It will be of some interest to consider why the progress of Ehrlich’s much earlier first attempt to discover such a specific remedy for an infec­tion had been halted for so many years. As early as 1891—20 years earlier—Ehrlich had experimented, with not unpromising results, on the possibility of treating malaria in man with methylene blue, using the opportunity presented by the presence, in a German hospital, of two sailors suffering from that tropical infec­tion. He could make no further progress, how­ever, under those conditions. Nobody could con­sider the exposure of human patients, even if they had been regularly available, to systematic trials of the curative properties of an indefinitely long series of new and untested substances. So Ehrlich, having no obvious means at that time of testing antimalarials on animals, felt it necessary to abandon his search for new and better remedies for malaria, which was to be held up, in fact, for some thirty-five years. Then it occurred to the research workers of the Bayer Company, in Elberfeld, that the malaria-like infections of certain small birds could be used for a preliminary trial of sub­stances for an antimalarial action. You may remember that these malaria-like blood-parasites of birds had helped Ronald Ross, many years earlier, to recognize a mosquito as the natural transmitter of malarial infections; and thus these Elberfeld investigators were able, by tests on such artificially transmitted infections in small birds, to select, for successful trials on naturally acquired malarial infections in man, the remedy which they called plasmochin, and then another which they called atebrin. The latter has been called mepacrlne in this country: and, as many of you doubtless know, its production here in the second World War came just in time to save the situation for our armies inBurmaandNew Guinea, when the Japanese, by invading Java, had seized the world's main source of quinine. Then, during the war and in the years which followed it, malaria-like infections in domestic poultry and monkeys, and then in mice, were found and pressed into the service, with the result that other and better antimalarial remedies, some for the treatment of an existing infection and others for the prevention of a new one, became successively available. So that the use of experiments on animals in this search for new and better remedies for malaria, halted, as I have shown, for so many years by the lack of such experiments, may be said now to have created a position in which a proper organ­ization of the world's resources, using the effective antimalarial remedies which are now ready to hand, and any others which may still come to light, together with the potent insecti­cides which are also now available, ought to be able to rid the world of malaria, if you could only get at the malaria-infected people with an adequate organization. And malaria is still, I suppose, the greatest single cause of mortality and chronic ill-health to a large proportion of the world's population.


In choosing a few examples to illustrate achievements of medical research since 1931, it would be impossible to overlook one which has effected a veritable revolution in the treat­ment of a large proportion of the diseases due to bacterial infections, which are among the most familiar in our temperate zone. These include a number of diseases which previously, up to 1935 indeed, had a most evil and a thoroughly deserved reputation as killers. You may remember that the late Sir William Osier used to refer to pneumonia as "Captain of the men of death."   Here again the search for chemotherapeutic agents, artificial remedies which would deal directly with these bacterial infections, had met with so many frustrations for more than a quarter of a century, that it had almost come to be accepted as an article of therapeutic belief that that kind of remedy would, for some unknown reason, always be found to be ineffective against that kind of infection. Then suddenly, in 1935, Professor Domagk, in Elberfeld, found the right kind of septicaemic infection in mice for the testing of potential remedies, and his colleagues produced by synthesis a substance they called prontosil, which, when so tested, was found to have a clear therapeutic action, and, when many other workers in different countries had eagerly picked up the new trail, proved to be the starting point for the now long series of the sulphanilamide derivatives. The prospect of sufferers from child-bed fever and other septicaemias, from pneumonia and cere­brospinal fever, and, when the war came, from bacillary dysentery, underwent a dramatic improvement. Meanwhile, however, the ice of pessimism, concerning the possibility of finding such direct remedies for the bacterial infections, having thus been thoroughly broken. Sir Howard Florey and Professor Chain, with their colleagues inOxford, were led, in the course of a new kind of survey, to undertake a thorough examination of the curative potentialities of penicillin, which the late Sir Alexander Fleming had discovered some ten years earlier. Alexander Fleming had made beautiful observations on its actions on different bacteria in culture, and he had demonstrated its freedom from harmful action on the blood cells outside the body, which might have been a key observation with regard to its possibilities; but he had not made such trials of its effects on experimental septicaemias in liv­ing animals, as were needed to reveal its immense potential importance as a remedy for a wide range of such infections. So penicillin had been put, as it were, on the shelf, had remained there, in fact, for most of a decade and had almost been forgotten, till Florey and his colleagues brought it back to notice with experiments which demonstrated its life-saving action on infected animals, and then the possibility of separating it in a state of sufficient purity to justify its eventual trial on similar infections in man; and thus they completed the inauguration of the greatest, perhaps, of all the therapeutic advances in living memory, and one of the greatest in all history. This advance, of course, is still in progress, with the discovery now of a still unended succession of other antibiotics, as they are called, each of them making some important addition to the repertory of remedies against the diseases due to different kinds of infection. Among other things, it was discovered that penicillin provided so effective a remedy for syphilis, that salvarsan has now been put almost into the background.


When Sir Alexander Fleming died, in the-spring of the present year, the whole world was united in mourning the loss and honouring the memory of the man whose genius for alert and accurate observation had enabled him thus to write the essential opening paragraph of this new and glorious chapter of life-saving scientific knowledge. It is proper, however, that everybody should be made to understand that while Fleming's discovery is rightly recog­nized and acclaimed, it might apparently have remained indefinitely without the practical applications which have meant so much to mankind, and have been in fact the immediate cause of this world-wide enthusiasm, if Florey and his team had not made a new and thorough investigation of the properties of penicillin as an internal antiseptic, with the help of an adequate series of experiments on living animals : and that further exploration, in this still so richly productive field of life-saving and healing possibilities, would even now be delayed or brought to a stand-still, if there were any successful attempt to hinder or to prevent experiments of that kind.


I think that we must take a brief glance at what is, perhaps, an even more direct contri­bution to the prevention and alleviation of human suffering. This has been made by researches during years still recent, not leading in this case to the discovery of new means for the treatment of disease, or even of its symptoms alone, but to a quite revolutionary improvement in the methods of producing anaesthesia for surgical operations. When I was a student I was taught a method of producing anaesthesia in patients for operation that showed no real signs of advance from the methods which had been used by Morton and Simpson in 1846 and 1847. Ask anybody who had to be anaesthetized for an operation even twenty years ago, and again in the past few years, and you will find that he has no doubt concerning the immense im­provement in the ease of induction, and the almost complete disappearance of the formerly often distressing after-effects. I cannot, of course, attempt to discuss all the many new types of anaesthetics, general or local, inhaled, swallowed or injected, now available to prepare for, to induce, or to maintain the essential anaesthesia. Let it suffice to say that the ad­vances have been great in all directions, and that the total gain to the relief of suffering humanity must be enormous, and is still progressive. Surely, if anybody is really concerned for the alleviation of pain, he will find something here to applaud.


I can mention in detail only a few of these improvements, made possible by experimental advances in physiology and pharmacology of which I myself had some direct knowledge. Some of the newer and most desirable anaes­thetics, when they were given in doses which were safe and otherwise effective, were found not to produce an adequate relaxation of the muscles for the requirements of the surgeon, as the patient remained too rigid for the operation. The difficulty could be overcome, however, by an appropriately slow administration of tubo-curarine, an alkaloid first isolated in a state of purity by my former colleague, Dr. Harold King, from one of the South American native arrow-poisons collectively known as Curare, Woorali, or Oorali. The actions of these poisons, and of tubocurarine from one of them, is to paralyse the effect of the motor nerves on the voluntary muscles, and thus to bring about a full relaxation, a flaccid paralysis, and, with carefully adjusted dosage, to supple­ment the action of an essential anaesthetic to just the required degree. Curare, or Oorali, however, on account of this very action, had figured for most of a century as a chosen target for the imaginative suspicions and lurid accusa­tions of the opponents of experimental physi­ology. Some of you may remember how Alfred Tennyson was misled into a poetical outpouring of indignation over an imaginary young doctor who, as he said, would "mangle the living dog, which had loved him and fawned at his knee, Drenched with the hellish oorali—that ever such things should be."


This really baseless suspicion of British physiologists had been so industriously spread that, on the recommendation of a Royal Com­mission, anxious to appease the clamour, the experimental use of curare was, and still is, forbidden in this country, except in the personal presence of an official Inspector. So we have the really striking contrast that, while the active alkaloid of curare is now widely recog­nized and used as a valuable accessor to anaesthesia in practical surgery, man is the only animal to which it can legally be thus administered without the presence of a Home Office Inspector—even for experiments of the particular kind which have made this practical application possible at all. The same restriction must, of course, logically apply to experimental advances, which have nevertheless been made even in this country, leading to the discovery of valuable synthetic derivatives and substitutes for tubocurarine. Experimental researches, in neighbouring and in other fields of physiology and pharmacology, are enabling surgical operations to be conducted without any significant loss of blood, and are conferring upon surgery a more general and a steadily increasing freedom and range of action, now extending to operations inside the chest and even inside the heart. And yet the essentially humane researches, which are furnishing the knowledge on which all these beneficent advances are based, are still exposed to a cruel campaign of denunciation and obstruction, for which the best that can be said is that, hitherto, it has been so largely ineffective.


I have given only a few examples out of the large number available for such selection. Had time and your patience allowed me to quote more, I could easily do so. In any case, however, the astonishing increase during recent years of the effectiveness of medicine in all its branches, through the advancement of knowl­edge by experimental research, needs no elaborate demonstration in detail, to anybody who is not determined to discredit it and to prevent any further such advances if he can.

What, then, are we to do about this attitude of blind obstruction? The first and most obvious thing, surely, is to join the Research Defence Society if you don't belong to it already, and to persuade others to join it, if you do belong. It needs and deserves all the support that you can give it, or get for it. Stephen Paget, whom we commemorate here to-day, founded it to fight the battles of the men and women who are doing medical research, and who are generally too busy with the demands of that humane duty, to defend themselves against the essentially cruel activity of those who organize the attempt to interfere with it. The Society is doing a noble service, and ought to have the support of everybody who is interested in improving the health and diminishing the sufferings of man­kind, and of man's animal friends as well.


We are all sorry, and I know that he is very sorry, that Dr. W. Lane-Petter, the Society's Honorary Secretary, is unable to be here to-day, being at present in India on official duty for the Laboratory Animals Bureau—the admirable organization which he directs for the Medical Research Council. The Bureau has the general object of making information available about accredited sources of healthy animals, suitable for the various purposes of research, and also about the kinds of accommodation and treat­ment that have been found necessary by-experience to keep them healthy under laboratory conditions. The objects of the Bureau are entirely congenial to and to some extent indeed overlap with, those of this Society. In one direction, however, the Bureau so far can give but little help. The need of research for dogs and cats is relatively small, by com­parison with its needs for the rapidly breeding rodents; but one of the minor tactical successes of the enemies of research has been to prevent the supply of dogs, in particular, for research, from the one source which could place it above suspicion.   The so-called "dogs homes" re­ceive all the stray dogs from the police, and destroy by the thousand those which are un­claimed. Years ago, now, the   late Lord Banbury, then still a member of the House of Commons, as Sir Frederick Banbury, on an occasion when the defenders of medical research were not watchful, succeeded in getting a clause included in a Bill dealing with other matters, which prohibited the use for research of any stray dog falling into the hands of the Police. The object was transparent enough; it was simply to keep alive, in the minds of sensi­tive dog-owners, the fear that, since these un­wanted dogs had been made legally unavailable, their own pets might be stolen and sold for research.   Nothing could undo the effect of that disreputable manoeuvre but amending legisla­tion, and the prospect of that can only be improved by the educational effort of a Society like this, addressed to Members of Parliament in particular. An educational campaign of that kind has made the unclaimed dogs from the so-called "pounds" available for research in city after city in theUnited States of America. After all, we have to realize that the support for the attack on medical research comes mainly from people whose ignorance and muddle-headedness make them easy victims of the care-full devised   propaganda: and that the only cure for that condition is the education in the realities of the position, which it is a main function of this Society to provide. We ought to remember, too, that the terminology of the whole subject, and especially of the provisions of the ancient Act dealing with it, might almost have been devised to make it easy to mislead the opinions of well-meaning but ignorant people. Certificate “A,” in particular, has the form of merely dispensing with the other­wise obligatory use of anaesthetics.   It has never been given, it has never been even applied for, except for experiments involving no actual operation more severe than a hypodermic injection or the puncture of a surface vein. In a large proportion of the experiments performed under it, the experiment consists in feeding with an experimental diet. These facts are well known to the enemies of research, since they appear year after year in all official records: but that does not deter them from telling their dupes that a vast majority of the experiments under the Act are vivisections performed without anaesthesia. One of the greatest services rendered in recent years, to dogs and dog lovers, was the late Sir Edward Mellanby's discovery that the disease known as "canine hysteria," or "running fits," is due simply to feeding dogs with preparations of wheaten flour which has undergone a par­ticular chemical conditioning process. Each of the experiments leading to that brilliant discovery, having been performed under Certi­ficates “A” and "E," could be misrepresented as the vivisection of a dog without anaesthetics, although it probably entailed no more serious operation than that of feeding him with what was then a generally available make of dog-biscuits.


What can we do to expose such nonsense? Join, or obtain new members for, Stephen Paget's Research Defence Society.


Lord Waverley, proposing a vote of thanks, said it gave him great pleasure to hear such a lively presentation of the matters Sir Henry Dale had put before the Society. Apart from any pleasure he may have given to those present, his lecture had been full of interest and he was sure everyone would agree that what he had set forth should be widely dis­seminated. Sir Henry had made a notable contribution to the advancement of the pur­poses of the Society, and he should be thanked for coming along to deliver the lecture, and for the great pains he had taken to present the sub­ject in so attractive a form.


Dr. J. W. Trevan, seconding, said it had given him considerable pleasure to listen to Sir Henry Dale because for half a century he had been a "fan" of Sir Henry Dale. Sir Henry's name was almost legendary and the members were very fortunate in having him present. Dr. Trevan said he was sure that all members agreed with what had been said, but they had not all the facility for expressing it in such a forthright manner as Sir Henry Dale had done.


The vote of thanks was carried with acclama­tion.

Last edited: 19 January 2018 13:57

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