Alternatives to animal experimentation


Well-planned and properly conducted experiments in animals have played a decisive role in the advancement of knowledge in biological sciences. The recognition of fundamental physiological processes governing the normal function of cells, tissues and organs, the elucidation of mechanisms of diseases, the evaluation of therapeutic agents or the development of modern operative techniques would have been impossible without the use of suitable experimental models in live animals. Despite numerous arguments in favor, however, animal experimentation is increasingly criticized not only by animal protection societies, but also by members of the scientific community. Beside rejection on principally philosophical grounds, the main objections against the current praxis in biomedical research include the alleged lack of correlation between findings in animals and man, the use of unnecessarily high numbers of animals in routine toxicity testing, insufficient measures to prevent suffering of animals, and the availability of 'alternative methods' to replace live animals in certain types of experiments. It is against this background that in 1982 the Swiss Federal Government decided to launch a coordinated research program (NFP 17) under the auspices of the Swiss National Science Foundation to promote the development and to evaluate experimental techniques suitable to reduce and, if possible, replace the use of animals. Out of a total of 37 projects submitted 10 of the most promising research plans were selected by a scientific advisory board for financial support for a maximum period of 3 years. The projects were started in autumn 1984 and concluded by the end of 1987. In the following multi-author review research groups describe and discuss their results, which were also presented at a symposium held at the University Hospital in Berne in April 1988. On that occasion, the use and acceptability of alternative techniques in the preclinical testing of drugs and other chemicals was discussed by an international panel of experts representing drug regulatory agencies of different European countries and the USA. The search for alternative methods centered around three main themes:

DOI: 10.1007/BF01941175

Cite this paper

@article{Follath1988AlternativesTA, title={Alternatives to animal experimentation}, author={Ferrenc Follath}, journal={Experientia}, year={1988}, volume={44}, pages={805-806} }