Medicine: When Guinea Pigs Become Patients

Ailing animals now rate treatments developed for their masters

Without extensive tests on animals, many of medicine's most spectacular advances, from antibiotics to heart transplants, would never have occurred. But increasingly, the tables have been turned: the guinea pigs have become the patients. Today veterinarians treat cancer, implant artificial joints, even perform open-heart surgery. Animal medicine in the U.S. has been transformed into a $5 billion industry that rivals human health care in sophistication. Says Franklin Loew, dean of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Mass.: "There are no technical boundaries to the application of human medicine to animals."

Four-legged patients are treated for conditions that...

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