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Animal Testing: Exploring Alternatives

Mon Sep 30, 2002

(HealthScoutNews) -- Using animals to test products for humans is considered cruel and inhumane by many people. Scientists are sensitive to that, and are struggling to find alternative ways of ensuring items that we eat, drink and use are safe for us, our unborn children and our environment.

Ironically, animals -- as well as people -- benefit from antibiotics, vaccines, blood thinners, cardiovascular therapies, pain-killers, and many surgical procedures developed through animal-related research.

Research that focuses on reducing or eliminating the use of animal subjects in research studies undergo peer reviews by members of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods. The group explores the use of other-than-animal testing procedures.

Since it's first action, in 1998, the committee has declared itself in favor of:

  • The "Murine Local Lymph Node Assay" test to determine if allergy- or dermatitis-risks exist in industrial chemicals, cleansers, cosmetics and various household products. This test actually takes one-third the time than the old animal-intense testing procedure, and involves one-half to one-third as many animals;
  • The "Corrositex" test, using a synthetic skin rather than rabbits, tests the corrosiveness of chemicals to human skin;
  • The use of rodents whose genes have been altered in a way that makes them respond faster and more accurately to tests -- resulting in fewer animals being used, and;
  • The use of fish and frogs and their tissues, rather than warm-blooded animals, for some tests.

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