Researchers have made a major breakthrough in their mission to use a chip in lieu of testing on animals.
It would end the needless testing of cosmetic chemicals on female mice; a test known as a local lymph node assay. In fact, just one use could save the lives of 25 animals. But the motivating factor behind this–unfortunately–is not really ethics.
“One important benefit in moving away from animal testing is the cost savings,” says Robert Freedman, Hurel’s chief executive officer.
Testing on small animals can run as high as $1,000 an animal. These chips would be far less expensive. Plus, there’d be fewer dead animals. I’m a fan of that.
Political pressure is also key. Europe plans to fully ban the sale of any cosmetics that were tested on animals come 2013.
It’s hard to tell exactly how many animals are used in skin allergy tests as rodents are not covered under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. But it’s estimated 10,000 animals are killed every year for such tests.
When animals are tested for an allergy, dendritic cells from the skin migrate to the lymph node. This creates an allergic reaction resulting in T cells. Those conducting the test then look for an outward allergic reaction, such as irritation.
So far, the researchers have developed the working microfluid part of the chip. But cells will need to be cultured to create an artificial lymph node. The lymph node will then be connected to artificial skin via the newly developed microfluid. Researchers would then be able to monitor the resulting T cells.
The researchers hope to have a fully functional prototype by 2011, far before the 2013 deadline.
Source: Technology Review
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