Speaking on a BBC World Service broadcast, Professor Michael Balls, first director of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM), expressed his hope that all animal experiments will come to an end despite the continued upward trend in animal use in UK:
âI believe if we really wanted to, we could work steadily toward a day in 10 to 20 years when animal testing is gone. ”
– Prof Michael Balls
Animal experiments are cruel and expensive, and they produce dangerously misleading results that are generally inapplicable to humans. With this in mind, the world’s most forward-thinking scientists are developing and using methods to study disease and test products that replace the use of animals and are genuinely relevant to human health.
These modern methods include sophisticated tests using human cells and tissues (also called in vitro methods), advanced computer modeling techniques (often called in silico models), and studies with human volunteers. These and other non-animal methods are not hampered by the species differences that make it difficult or impossible to apply animal test results to humans, and they generally take less time and money to complete. .
PETA entities funds the development of several of these non-animal methods, publish research on their superiority over animal testing, and vigorously promote their use by governments and companies around the world.
In vitro Trial
- Harvard Wyss Institute created “Organs on a chip” which contain human cells cultured using a pioneering method that mimics the structure and function of human organs and organ systems. Chips can be used to predict human responses in disease research, drug testing, and toxicity testing. They have been shown to mimic human physiology, disease, and drug responses more accurately than crude animal experiments. Some companies, like the HÂµRel Corporation, have already turned these chips into products that researchers can use instead of animals.
- A variety of cell tests and tissue models can be used to assess the safety of drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products. CeeTox has developed a method to assess the potential of a substance to cause skin allergy in humans which incorporates by MatTek EpiDerm â¢ tissue model – a Three-dimensional skin model derived from human cells which reproduces the key features of normal human skin. It avoids the use of guinea pigs or mice, which would have received an injection of a substance or would have applied it to their shaved skin to determine an allergic response. by MatTek EpiDerm â¢ also saves rabbits from painful and prolonged experiments that have already been conducted to assess whether chemicals corrode or irritate the skin.
- Researchers from EURL ECVAM have developed five different tests that use human blood cells to detect contaminants in drugs that cause a potentially dangerous fever reaction when they enter the body. Non-animal methods avoid the cruel use of rabbits in this painful procedure.
Computer (in Silico) Modeling
- Researchers have developed a wide range of sophisticated computer models that simulate human biology and developmental progression diseases. Studies show that these models can accurately predict how new drugs will react in the human body and may end the use of animals in exploratory research and many standard screening tests.
- Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSARs) are computational techniques that can replace animal testing by making a sophisticated prediction of a substance’s likelihood of being hazardous, based on its similarity to existing substances and our knowledge of human biology. Companies and governments are increasingly using QSAR tools to avoid testing chemicals on animals, and PETA US is encouraging and finances their use internationally.
Research with human volunteers
- A method called “microdosing“Can provide vital information about the safety of an investigational drug and how it is metabolized in humans before large-scale human trials.” Volunteers are given an extremely low single dose and sophisticated imaging techniques are used to monitor the behavior of the drug in the body. Microdosing can help remove drug compounds that won’t work in humans so they don’t go through government-required animal testing.
- Advanced brain imaging and recording techniques – such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – with human volunteers can be used instead of archaic experiments in which the brains of rats, cats and of monkeys is damaged. These modern techniques allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron (as in the case of intracranial electroencephalography), and researchers can even temporarily and reversibly induce brain disorders using transcranial magnetic stimulation.
- Instead of experimentally inducing human disease in animals in artificial environments, epidemiological studies – the study of diseases occurring naturally in populations – can provide vital, human-based information on risk factors. and the causes of disease. These types of studies have informed us about the relationship between smoking and cancer, the mechanism of transmission of AIDS and other infectious diseases, and the identification of risk factors for heart disease, allowing appropriate action to be taken for prevent or reduce the onset of these diseases.
- Computerized with striking realism human-patient simulators who breathe, bleed, convulse, speak, and even “die” have been shown to teach students physiology and pharmacology better than crude exercises that involve cutting up animals. The most high-tech simulators mimic disease and injury and give the appropriate biological responses to medical interventions and drug injections.
- For more advanced medical training, systems like TraumaMan – which mimics a breathing and bleeding human torso and has realistic layers of skin, tissue, ribs and internal organs – are widely used to teach emergency surgical procedures. These systems have been shown in numerous studies to confer vital skills better than courses that require students to inject or cut live pigs, goats or dogs.
PETA is a member of PETA Science Consortium International eV Visit the Consortium website for more information on the global work of PETA entities to promote the development and use of modern methods of non-animal research and experimentation. A list of all non-animal toxicity test methods approved by regulatory agencies can be found here.
The number of people who oppose animal testing continues to grow as awareness of the exciting, progressive and effective science that uses non-animal methods for the benefit of humans and other species increases.
If the UK is to be at the forefront of science, it must accept the will of the overwhelming majority majority (75%) from the public and embrace and invest in these new technologies instead of focusing on animal testing which stunted medical advances and dangerously misled us about disease.
To help end cruel animal experiments, please visit our Action center.