No one will read the above scheme with satisfaction and some people will read it with disgust. Experienced toxicologists point out that:
The majority of toxicity tests (which particularly are subject to ethical criticism) are firmly based on studies in whole animals, because only in them is it possible to approach the complexity of organisation of body systems in humans, to explore any consequences of variable absorption, metabolism and excretion, and to reveal not only direct toxic effects but also those of a secondary or indirect nature due to induced abnormalities in integrative mechanisms, or distant effects of a toxic metabolite produced in one organ that acts on another.13
The use of animals would be totally unjustified if results useful to man could not be obtained. In
12 An admirable discussion of the issues will be found in Paton W 1984 Man and mouse. Oxford, London and in Zbinden G 1990 Alternatives to animal experimentation. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 11:104
13 Brimblecome R W, Dayan A D 1993 In: Burley D M, Clarke J M, Lasagna L (eds) Pharmaceutical Medicine. Arnold, London many known respects animals are similar to man, but in many respects they are not. Increasingly, the low-prediction tests are being defined and eliminated. It will be a long time before in-vitro tests become sufficiently robust to eliminate the need for tests in whole animals, but we welcome the progress that is being made towards this end. The incentive to eliminate whole animal tests is not only ethical, it is economic, for whole animals are very expensive to breed and house and keep in health. The European Union instructs researchers to choose non-(whole) animal methods if they are 'scientifically satisfactory [and] reasonably and practically available'.
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