Alternatives to animal testing

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Main articles
Alternatives to animal testing
Animal testing
Animal testing on invertebrates
Animal testing on frogs
Animal testing on non-human primates
Animal testing on rabbits
Animal testing on rodents
History of animal testing
History of model organisms

Issues
Biomedical Research
Animal rights
Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act
Animal welfare
Great Ape research ban
International trade in primates

Controversial experiments
Britches
Cambridge University primates
Pit of despair
Silver Spring monkeys
Unnecessary Fuss

Companies
Charles River Laboratories, Inc.
Covance · Harlan
Huntingdon Life Sciences
UK lab animal suppliers
Nafovanny

Groups/campaigns
Americans for Medical Progress
AALAS · AAAS
Foundation For Biomedical Research
Boyd Group · BUAV
Physicians Committee
Primate Freedom Project
Pro-Test · SPEAK
Research Defence Society
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty

Writers/activists
Colin Blakemore · Carl Cohen
Simon Festing · Tipu Aziz

Categories
Animal testing
Animal rights
Animal welfare

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Most scientists and governments say they agree that animal testing should cause as little suffering as possible, and that alternatives to animal testing need to be developed. The "three Rs",[1] first described by Russell and Burch (1959), are guiding principles for the use of animals in research in many countries:

  • Reduction refers to methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.
  • Refinement refers to methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals still used.
  • Replacement refers to the preferred use of non-animal methods over animal methods whenever it is possible to achieve the same scientific aim.

Examples

The two major alternatives to in vivo animal testing are in vitro cell culture techniques and in silico computer simulation. However, some claim they are not true alternatives since simulations use data from prior animal experiments and cultured cells often require animal derived products, such as serum. Others say that they cannot replace animals completely as they are unlikely to ever provide enough information about the complex interactions of living systems.[2] Examples of computer simulations available include models of diabetes,[3] asthma,[4] and drug absorption, though potential new medicines identified using these techniques are currently still required to be verified in animal tests before licensing.

Cell culture is currently the most successful, and promising, alternative to animal use. For example, cultured cells have also been developed to create monoclonal antibodies, prior to this production required animals to undergo a procedure likely to cause pain and distress.[5]

A third alternative now attracting considerable interest is so-called microdosing, in which the basic behaviour of drugs is assessed using human volunteers receiving doses well below those expected to produce whole-body effects.[6]

Institutes

Institutes researching (and organizations funding) alternatives to animal testing include:

In October 2006 the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) launched an online database of toxicology non-animal alternative test methods. Categories at present include in vitro methods, QSAR models and a bibliographic section.[7]

Notes

  1. Russell, W.M.S. and Burch, R.L. "The Removal of Inhumanity: The Three R's". Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  2. "Navigating chemical space for biology and medicine". Nature. 432 (7019): 855–61. 16 December, 2004. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. "Diabetes". entelos.com. Retrieved 2007-10-05. (from internet archive)
  4. "Asthma". entelos.com. Retrieved 2007-10-05. (from internet archive)
  5. "Special section: Monoclonal antibodies". Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ofPublic Health. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
  6. Malcolm Rowland (2006). "Microdosing and the 3Rs". National Center for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research ( NC3Rs ). Retrieved 2007-09-22. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  7. "Home page". Evcam Database Service on Alternative methods toAnimal Experimentation. Retrieved 2007-10-05.

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