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October 24, 2012

New Cell Test Will Help Save Rabbits From Severe Eye Irritation Experiments

Humane Society International

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The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), an economic alliance of 34 industrialized countries, has adopted a new validated non-animal test method that can be used to asses chemicals for severe eye irritation and corrosion instead of subjecting rabbits to having chemicals dripped in their eyes. The cell-based Fluorescein Leakage Test, while not a 1:1 replacement for the rabbit test, can be used as part of a step-wise strategy to considerably reduce the number of animals subjected to eye irritancy testing.

The traditional Draize rabbit eye irritation/corrosion test was developed in 1944 and involves applying a test substance to the eye of rabbits and observing anything from mild irritation to serious and irreversible tissue damage. As well as causing the animals pain, the test has been scientifically criticized as unreliable and lacking relevance to people due to the differences between rabbit and human eyes. The test relies on technicians making largely subjective assessments of eye damage using a score-card system.

Humane Society International welcomes final adoption of the new in vitro method by the OECD, the final step in the international regulatory acceptance process of test methods. This news comes as a new report from the United States estimates that the global market for in vitro toxicity testing is expected to reach US $4,114 million in 2018. The report explains that the global in vitro toxicity testing market was worth US $1,518.7 million in 2011 and is expected to grow 15.3 percent between 2013 and 2018. In the overall global market, North America has the highest share accounting for US $589.2 million in 2011, followed by Europe, which accounted for US $569.5 million in 2011. However, the highest growth in the forecasted period is expected to be seen in Asia as a result of economic growth.

Promoting the advancement of chemical and human health research through the development and application of cutting-edge non-animal test methods, is a major pillar of Humane Society International’s global work. In Brazil, India and other developing cosmetics markets, HSI’s Be Cruelty-Free campaign is working to replace animal tests for cosmetics and product testing with in vitro and other superior non-animal methods. Investing in the future of non-animal research technologies is a major growth area offering not just considerable research advantages but also significant economic benefits too. HSI’s Be Cruelty-Free team is creating links with policy makers, scientists and companies across the world to ensure that even more animals in laboratories are replaced by these emerging technologies.

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