Animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats have been used in medical and pharmaceutical testing for decades to predict toxicity and effectiveness of everything from medical devices and drugs to cosmetics. A growing number of researchers and companies are now moving away from animal testing to humane alternatives that still ensure products are safe for human use. The development of these alternatives is rapidly growing as innovations in science make animal testing completely unnecessary.
Researchers have developed several innovative strategies to avoid the use of animals in the testing of drugs, cosmetics, and consumer products. Here are some of the most important strategies used to make cruelty-free products possible.
3D Skin Equivalents
Rather than testing for skin irritation and corrosivity on animals, scientists can now measure these factors using 3D human skin equivalents like EpiDerm and SkinEthic combined with computer models. This strategy can measure likely chemical activity, properties, and effects with an accuracy of 95%.
Nearly every type of animal and human cell can be grown in a lab. In fact, researchers are even capable of growing cells into 3D structures like mini organs. Cell cultures are often used in chemical testing, drug development, and vaccine production.
Sophisticated computer models are capable of modeling or replicating everything from the skin and eyes to the digestive system and heart. These models can be used for virtual experiments of drugs and products based on existing data and mathematical formulas.
Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test
The Draize Eye Test has been used since 1944 to test for eye irritation, often in cosmetics. Rabbits are usually used and the animals may suffer from bleeding, ulcers, and blindness. A humane and widely accepted alternative is the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability test. This test uses corneal tissue, a slaughterhouse byproduct, instead of live animals to test for damage to cornea tissue.