Alternatives to animal testing
"'animal testingMost scientists and governments say they agree that
animal testingshould cause as little suffering as possible, and that alternatives to animal testing need to be developed. The "three Rs", [cite web|url=http://altweb.jhsph.edu/publications/humane_exp/chap4d.htm|title=The Removal of Inhumanity: The Three R's|author= Russell, W.M.S. and Burch, R.L.|accessdate=2007-05-24] 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.
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. [cite journal
title=Navigating chemical space for biology and medicine
16 December, 2004
author=Lipinski, Christopher] Examples of computer simulations available include models of diabetes, [cite web
accessdate=2007-10-05 (from internet archive)] asthma, [cite web
accessdate=2007-10-05 (from internet archive)] 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. [cite web
title=Special section: Monoclonal antibodies
publisher=Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ofPublic Health
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. [cite web
title=Microdosing and the 3Rs
publisher=National Center for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research ( NC3Rs )
Institutes researching (and organizations funding) alternatives to animal testing include:
Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
UCDavis Center for Animal Alternatives
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Dr Hadwen Trust
* [http://www.nc3rs.org.uk National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research]
In October 2006 the [http://ecvam.jrc.it/ 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. [cite web
publisher=Evcam Database Service on Alternative methods toAnimal Experimentation
Under the Framework Programmes 6 and 7, the
European Commissionis funding (and will be funding) a significant number of large integrated research projects aiming to develop alternatives to animal testing.
In vitro toxicology
[http://www.Go3R.org Go3R: semantic search to avoid animal experiments]
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