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Alternatives to Animal Testing


Are There Any Alternatives to Animal Testing in Preclinical Research? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Alternatives to Animal Testing

Alternatives to Animal Testing 
Preclinical Studies
  • The number of animals used in preclinical
    studies is continuously increasing. Each year
    millions of experimental animals across the world
    are sacrificed in the name of scientific
  • The pain, distress and death experienced by the
    animals during scientific experiments have been
    an issue of debate since long.
  • Besides the major concern of ethics, there are
    few more disadvantages of using animals for
    scientific experiments, like requirement of
    skilled manpower, time consuming protocols, and
    high cost.

Considering these disadvantages, many
alternatives to animal testing have been
proposed. Currently, a strategy of 3Rs
(reduction, refinement, and placement) is being
applied for using animals in research labs.
Strategy of 3Rs
  • The strategy of 3Rs was first suggested by
    Russell and Burch in 1959 to make animal
    experiments more human and ethical.
  • Their approach motivates to use minimum number of
    animals in an experiment, plan and refine
    experiments to minimize pain and distress to the
    animals, and finally replace higher animals with
    alternative methods and lower organisms.

1) Reduction
  • In vitro cell cultures have provided a safe
    alternative to reduce the use of animals in lab
    testing. By using in vitro cell cultures like
    human hepatocyte culture, embryonic stem cell
    culture etc., you can easily get relevant
    information about the metabolism and excretion of
    drugs from the body.
  • Inclusion of these methods in study design and
    sharing of the discovered data will eliminate
    unsuitable drug compounds in preliminary stages
    and minimize the use of animals in further

2) Refinement
  • When the cage environment of the animals used in
    experiments is not suitable, it adds to the
    stress on animals. Their hormone levels fluctuate
    and the results are not satisfactory. Thus, the
    experiments have to be repeated causing an
    increase in the use of experimental animals.
  • The experiments can be refined by enriching the
    cage environment of the experimental animals.
    This not only reduces the pain and discomfort in
    animals, but will also improve the quality of

3) Replacement
  • Various alternatives like in vitro cell cultures,
    computer models, and new imaging techniques are
    now being used in place of experimental animals.
  • Besides reducing the use of animals, these
    alternative methods are time-effective,
    cost-effective, and require less manpower.

a) Cell and Tissue Cultures
  • Use of in vitro cell and tissue cultures involves
    the growth of cells outside the body in a
    laboratory environment and offer an important
    alternative for animal experiments.
  • The cells and tissues from the liver, kidney,
    brain, skin etc. are removed from an animal and
    kept outside the body in a suitable growth medium
    for few days to several months or years.
  • Cell cultures are routinely used in preclinical
    studies to know the toxicity and efficacy of
    potential drug molecules. They are cost and
    time-effective and easy to follow.

b) Computer Models
  • Computers help us to understand the basic
    principles of biology. Specialized computer
    models and software programs have been designed
    to predict the various possible biological and
    toxic effects of a chemical or potential drug
    candidate without animal dissection.
  • This way unsuitable drug gets eliminated in
    primary screening and only the most promising
    ones are used for animal experimentation.
  • These software programs give speed and
    cost-effectiveness to the preclinical studies.

c) Alternative Organisms
  • Owing to the ethical issues regarding the use of
    experimental animals like pigs, rats, dogs, and
    monkeys, use of alternative organisms has been
  • Different model organisms that can be used as
    alternatives to animals include micro-organisms
    such as bacteria and fungi, lower vertebrates
    like zebra fish, and invertebrates like flies.
  • These alternative organisms reduce the required
    working space, cost of laboratory solutions, test
    chemicals and the manpower besides the use of
    experimental animals.

  • Thus, the issue of animal ethics cant be ignored
    and more efforts must be undertaken to
    effectively implement the 3 Rs strategy during
    laboratory use of animals.
  • For this, various computer models, in vitro cell
    cultures, enzymatic screens, and alternative
    model organisms must be integrated. The
    integrated approach would result in minimum
    involvement of animals in preclinical research.

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