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Alternatives to Animals for Toxicity Testing

Following recent media coverage and the activities of various animal activist organisations, nowadays most people will have an opinion regarding animal rights, either in relation to fox hunting, farming or on the use of animals in scientific experiments. Some people view this sort of treatment of living creatures as unnecessarily cruel, although their opinion may be modified depending on how well informed they are on the subject.

Animal experimentation is generally regarded as a necessary evil that enables society to benefit from the many advances in scientific knowledge, which have come about in the last hundred years. Animal experimentation has mainly centred on medical research leading to the development of new drugs, vaccines and medical devices where the use of animals has been easier to justify. However, in our modern world we have become increasingly dependent on a massive range of other products derived from the chemical industry, which we demand must be as safe as possible.

The safety assessment of these chemicals, which include pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, biocides, industrial and household chemicals (including toiletries and cosmetics), is required by law and involves determining a material's toxicological properties, often requiring the use of experimental animals. The aim of this is to determine whether there will be any possible adverse effects in humans. By using these animal models as biological systems, it is possible to ensure that only 'safe' products are introduced into the marketplace.


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By C Deegan and M Thomas of SafePharm Laboratories

The toxicology department at SafePharm Laboratories Ltd has been exploring the various animal alternative toxicological tests for a number of years and is active in the promotion of such available tests for hazard assessment.

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C Deegan
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M Thomas
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