Alternatives to animal testing

Despite the claims of extremist animal protesters, scientists do not in fact relish the use of animals in tests of new pharmaceutical and other chemical products and are continually searching for valid alternatives that might reduce the numbers of small mammals, for instance used in pesticide safety tests.

According to Jennifer Rohn writing in this week’s issue of Chemistry & Industry magazine, the thousands of test animals currently need for pesticide evaluation might be replaced by tricking ticks into setting up home on a faux cowhide. The hide, developed by Swiss researchers consists of a skin-like silicone membrane, complete with hair that rests over a layer of cow’s blood. The insects are so comfortable with the faux-cow that they set up home, mate and lay eggs.

Currently, some 10,000 animals are used annually to test new tick-fighting chemicals because pesticides to kill Lyme-disease carrying ticks and other insects are constantly being updated.

Thomas Kröber and Patrick Guerin at the University of Neuchâtel confirmed the effectiveness of their test bed using a standard tick pesticide, firponil, and observing central nervous system damage revealed by leg trembling in the ticks. They report details in the journal Pest Management Science.

Vicky Robinson, chief executive of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, said: This research takes a simple idea and applies it to great effect, resulting in a potentially significant impact on animal use. Most importantly, it demonstrates that finding ways to reduce the use of animals in research and testing is as much about improving the science as it is about considering the welfare of animals.’

Obviously, the tick test avoids the need to test on rodents or other laboratory mammals, but it remains a devastating blow to tick lovers everywhere.

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17 thoughts on “Alternatives to animal testing”

  1. I cannot believe how you turned this around to claim I lack compassion. You didn’t even read the post till after you’d made your first comment. The post (which is three years old) was reporting on a test that avoids the need to test on animals, by posting it I was at the time show how work was progressing to that worthy end.

  2. David, the last I checked, we don’t have a cure for AIDS or for cancer.

    As far as malia, during1942-1945, malaria experiments were conducted at Dachau concentration camp on more than 1,200 prisoners.

    In order to quickly develop a cure for malaria, at the University of Chicago Medical School, professor Dr. Alf Alving infects psychotic patients at Illinois State Hospital with the disease through blood transfusions and then experiments malaria cures on them during 1944-1946.

    Is it okay for people to benefit from the suffering of others? Doesn’t that, in a way, defeat the purpose of saving lives-by taking lives?

    Animals are not the only ones to be tested on but humans as well.

    I am sure you are familiar with the study conducted in Alabama on 400 African-American men from 1932-1972, when they were infected with Syphillas to determine if the effects of the disease on blacks were the same or different as on whites. These men were told they had “bad blood” and since they were unaware of the cause or nature of their diagnoses, their wives and children also became infected and died.

    In each case, scientists chose those who are inferior and more vulnerable, just like animals. Laws were established to protect humans, but unethical research still continues. Children and the mentally ill have been no exception.

    As far as ADHD, parents place a lot of trust and faith into doctors and scientists telling them what is sufficient for the wellbeing of their child. Do they actually have a “cure” for ADHD or do the medications available help subdued the so-called illness? In most cases, there is no cure.

    Researchers are still figuring it out while distributing a fast fix for the symptoms-THAT is why ADRs occur. People are seeing more warnings about antidepressants causing violent behavior or suicidal thoughts, or the drugs are being pulled off shelves. That wouldn’t take place if ADRs had to do with illnesses already there.

    It happens because companies use animals to provide consumers with a false sense of security. Oh, we tested it on animals so let’s move onto the clinical trials. let’s get this product out there. The problem is that many results from animal data turn out differently for humans. Using animals actually hinders and prevents medical progress.

    Yes, I am sure you’re going to bring up the success stories of how animals have contributed to science. I think when scientists knew nothing about DNA or the genetic makeup of humans, animals were helpful to learn more about how the living system worked. But testing animals for the safety of products. How does one justify that?

    Researchers expose harmful chemicals into the eyes or on the skin of animals, particularly bunnies, to warn consumers, “Don’t put this sh*t in your eyes” ? Come on.

    The thing is that researchers are testing chemicals that provoke suffering and death on animals, such as Toxicity tests, and then, on a smaller scale, those chemicals are placed in commonly used products for consumers. That’s what the test is about overall. Who’s to say that these chemicals that we’re using a smaller doseages, every day (sometimes), isn’t causing serious illnesses for humans over time?

    I am in agreement that people contribute to the impact of the environment in huge amounts and various ways. I also believe we have a responsibility for other living things.

    Some scientists may BABBLE about human safety and how animal testing is no different than other pullutants people contribute to doing. So that justifies all of it? I mean, my kid can’t get away with saying, “I did it because they were doing it,” so either should anyone else.

    If you don’t want to get knocked on for showing little compassion, then what can I say-show some.

  3. I’ve discussed the creeping medicalisation of the human condition several times here and elsewhere and so am well aware of that issue. But, I think you’d see a lot of blue faces if you were to argue with a parent whose kid seriously has ADHD that it’s nothing more than Bobby Joe being rambunctious.

    Yes, of course, there’s a difference between drugs animal testing and driving your car, but what about drinking milk, buying hardwood, expecting a decent steak at your local restaurant, leaving people to die in slums of malaria, plague, TB, AIDS, they have a much greater impact, surely? And, I’m not quite yet sky-coloured.

    I don’t take kindly to your ad hominem attacks on me regarding my compassion…

  4. Well, I’m not an anything-ist either, lol.

    Saves lives? What illnesses are you referring to exactly?

    Nearly 50 percent of Americans are on prescription drugs, and nearly 20 percent of school children are on mind-altering amphetamines like Ritalin or antidepressants like Prozac.

    It’s ridiculous how many prescription drugs are available and questionable how many people actually have illnesses.

    For instance, kids who are hyper-active with ADHD. Oh, mom and dad don’t want to deal with their rambunctious child, little Bobby Joe. So let’s pop him a pill. Schwew, that was easy. Even though their son has transformed into a zombie, he’s well mannered now-so problem solved. Watch TV lately? Consider how fast one screen moves to the next, even with video games. Could this play a part at all in why kids have a shorter attention span; too much TV and video games these days?

    Most medications these days, in my opinion, provide a quick fix.

    Did you know that there use to be a diagnoses for black people who would escape from slavery? I can’t recall its titlement, but it was in fact considered an illness. Go figure. Something must be wrong with a person going after their freedom, huh?

    Homosexuals use to be considered mentally ill as well and were diagnosed, but we kind of scratched that one off the list as it’s become more accepted within our society.

    Yes, I know prescription drugs have to follow FDA requirements. Cosmetics and personal care products that help treat and prevent disease, such as, sun blocks, anti-dandruff shampoos, or acne treatments, must comply with FDA requirements as well. That’s what animals languish with pain and die for!

    It isn’t scientists choice? Who is twisting their arm? If more scientists stopped being so conventional and just went along with standard procedures, no matter how wrong it is to test on innocent animals, maybe we could move on from methods practiced since the 17th century.

    Many scientists will say that they don’t believe we’ll ever completely replace animals used in experiments, and it’s that exact attitude that prevents progress!

    Thank you, thank you for all the researchers out there who are actually STEPPING OUT OF THE BOX!

    I don’t care of you talk to plants or not. I can be a bit sarcatic sometimes.

    I agree. We do have a significant impact on the enviorment. Look, you can try all you want to compare me eating, or hopping into my car-and so forth- to testing animals for pharmaceutical drugs until you are blue in the face. You are not going to convince me that the two are even remotely similiar. Hmm, taking a bite to eat to shoving toxins through a tube up a monkeys nostril. No, I’m not getting it.

    Either I am incredibly stupid, or you need to seriously take a look at your moral lackness. Where is your compassion? It’s got to be in there somewhere…you had a dog, right? You know, some kind of actual relationship with an animal before you started seeing them as resources? Uck.

    And I do care about the enviornment. What gave you the impression that I didn’t? I care about many things that go beyond myself or my humanity.

  5. I’ll address your points in reverse. I am not an anything-ist. I am a science writer.

    The issue of adverse drug reactions is a serious one, but what is often never mentioned is that the vast majority occur in patients who are seriously ill or present complex multiple symptoms and diseases, there are no panaceas but conventional pharmaceutical intervention saves many more lives than it takes.

    I too hope you never have to take serious medication, but if you do, it will have been tested on animals, see next point.

    I don’t know any scientists who *want* to use animals in testing, it’s not their choice either way, regulations insist on animal testing for pharmaceuticals.

    I don’t talk to plants, that was not what I meant. We, as a species, have a significant impact on the environment and other species in everything we do. Yes, you can try to live a “greener” life, but there is no escaping the fact that every time you eat, hop in your car, or even flush the toilet you are affecting the environment detrimentally because of the significant resources used to live your life day to day. The direct use of animals in pharma testing is just such a tiny part of that and certainly relatively small numbers compared to the loss of life caused by oil refining, the burning of fossil fuels, the farming of cattle, and the slash and burn of rainforests.

    By the way, going back to your last point, why wouldn’t you want to care about the environment? In the absence of light-speed space travel, it’s really all we have, we should try to look after it better.

  6. I never said you were inhumane. I mean, maybe you’re the type of person who arrives home from a long day of work and talks to his plants. On the other hand, you could be one of those people who hides dead bodies within the walls of his home. I just don’t know (perhaps, I should be a little more nicer).

    Yeah, we all take part. I see your point there, but well…I drink water to live, first of all. I have a house because it provides shelter for me and my loved ones. I am fortunate enough to have heating to keep me warm, but I do try to use it efficiently. And I do eat plants. I admit to be a lover of salad, and I even feed my kids vegetables that were violently pulled and torn from the earth’s surface. At the rate you’re going, I am afaid to move-I may step on a leaf (let alone, eat one)!

    Thank you for posting about the new alternatives to animal testing that are becoming available. I did attempt to read you’re entire blog but apparently scanned it over instead without taking a serious look after the first sentence. I have been doing much research on animal testing and its grusomeness, so my mind was set to respond in a quick fashion. I do apologize and am just slightly embarrassed.

    Some scientists do put forth a strong dedication to establish and examine new alternatives, whereas, others remain stuck using conventional methods, much of which has a great deal to do with job security and prestige.

    I hope that if I ever am required to take medication, that it is not reliant on the basis of animal data. Did you know the 4th leading cause of death is from adverse drug reactions? And 100, 000 lives are taken each year by LEGAL drugs (more than the amount of all illegal drugs combined)?

    You’re an enviornmentalist, are you?

  7. @Kelly I’m inhumane because I reported on the development of alternatives to animal testing? Did you actually read the article or did you just decide to post your malicious comment on the basis of what you thought I’d said. I was defending no one. I was reporting.

    Moreover, unless you somehow exist outside common society (which you obviously don’t as you’re posting on blogs) then you are just as guilty as the next person of exploiting the natural world. Everything we do results in what you term inhumanity. You wear leather shoes? Eat dairy products? Meat? Plants? Drink water? Drive? Fly? Live in a house? Use electricity? Heat your home? Ultimately, all these things come at a price to natural ecosystems, just because you don’t see those creatures and their habitats destroyed to make way for factories, homes, schools, doesn’t mean it ain’t happening.

    Meanwhile, I just hope you can bring yourself to take your medication next time you’re seriously ill.

  8. Gosh, it’s hard to tell that scientists feel that way-not relishing in the use of animals in product testing-when they allow millions of animals to suffer and die each year…um, so companies can profit from the drugs they sell. Animal testing is wrong, and I am so tired of people trying justify the use of other living creatures for the better convienence and comfort of humans. Not that I have anything against humans; I just think some of them are inhumane, such as, scientists and researchers who fail to break themselves from conventional methods, oh-and people like you who stick up for them.

  9. this is wrong animal testing should be out lawed . animals are still living creatures and dezerve to live just as much as we do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi im doing a project on animal testing and I am wondering if anyone knows of what i could do for an experiment.

  11. Tiffany, that’s certainly one argument against animal testing, but there are rules and regulations that govern the use of animals in experiments, they are not subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering despite what the animal rights lobbyist videos claim. Moreover, until there is a viable alternative that can help us produce drugs to save lives without the use of animals what are our options? I could not bear the thought of losing one of my children for the sake of a lab rat and if ultimately faced with such a dilemma I think most parents would agree.

  12. i think animal testing is a cruel and horrible thing to do to an animal. i just saw a video that said that the so called, ” scientists, ” cut out the dogs vocal chords so that the dogs can’t bark and wont disturb their studies. they also don’t give any of the animals pain killers, so the poor animals have to stand the pain at its worst. the animals are defenceless. so we need to stand up for what is right and protect the animals.

  13. You know, I don’t have a problem with animal testing. Don’t get me wrong I love animals and everything it’s just that a couple days ago I told my dad I was doing a report about animal testing and then he asked me what I thought about it. I told him I didn’t know. Then he told me he doesn’t have a problem about it. He said that if his child was sick with a disease that he would won’t them to find a medicine to cure it and if it means testing on animals that’s fine just as long as it would save lives. And then I thought about it and that’s what I think now. But that’s only my opinion. just as long as it saves lives then it’s fine to me.

  14. The majority of animal testing is not carried out with the aim of obtaining publishable results at all but rather because regulations insist on animal results before pharmaceutical and other products can be brought to market. This is set to be grow right across the EU as regulations aimed at ensuring chemical product safety are extended so that every single molecule has to be tested on animals. The underlying pressure for this testing certainly doesn’t come from scientists but has emerged because of lobbying pressure from activist groups that see every chemical as somehow intrinsically “evil” and seem to have no grasp of how to assess risk when it comes to exposure to these evil entities.

    This latest research into alternatives for animal testing seems to offer an escape route for much of the obligatory testing (rather than research investigations) that have to be carried out on mammals and other “higher” species by offering in this case, the pest to be exterminated as its own safety test.

    On a slightly different note, are those who are selflessly dedicated to that cause the same individuals who physically abused individual members of staff at a UK research centre of the last few years, threatened their families, and vandalised their vehivles and homes all in the name of animal liberation? Just wondering.

  15. The only reason efforts are being made to find alternatives to in vivo animal tests is because of the selfless dedication of those of us who are willing to speak up on behalf of abused and exploited animals. As a scientist, I know all too well the pressure to publish leads to looking for quick ways to obtain publishable results. Animals provide the easiest way for researchers to come up with publishable results, even if the data are poorly suited for the problem being studied. The vivisection industry is the sorriest example of our society’s acceptance of that uncivilized creed, “the ends justify the means”.

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