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PETA Funds Non-Animal Methods

“The science PETA is sponsoring is critical to the elimination of animal use. PETA puts its money where its mouth is and has steadfastly supported better use of science to reduce reliance on animal testing.”
—Dr. Gilman Veith, Chairman of the Board, International QSAR Foundation

PETA has a long history of working closely with government agencies, industry, and educational institutions to push for humane, effective non-animal tests. PETA’s efforts to promote non-animal tests include directly funding the development and validation of these tests. Validation is the process by which the reliability and relevance of a test method is established, and it is required before national and international regulatory agencies will adopt a test method (even though no such scientific validation was required for many currently accepted animal tests).

To date, PETA and its international affiliates have provided more than $1.8 million ($4 million including in-kind donations of time and materials from laboratories and manufacturers) in funding for promising non-animal test methods and other alternatives to replace animal use. There is no comparison between this funding and the billions of dollars wasted by the federal government, companies, universities, and many health charities on misleading animal experiments, but it is crucial for getting animals out of laboratories.

Skin Testing

Skin allergy or sensitization testing is commonly performed on a wide range of chemicals, including those found in pesticides, cosmetics, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. In the first validation of a non-animal method funded by an animal protection organization, PETA’s overseas affiliate PETA U.K. awarded more than $150,000 to CeeTox, Inc. (acquired by Cyprotex), for the validation of a non-animal skin allergy test for cosmetics, medical device extracts, and other substances.

In the current animal tests, 32 to 80 guinea pigs or 16 to 60 mice have chemical substances repeatedly smeared onto their skin or injected into their bodies before they are killed. These tests take weeks to conduct and cost $4,000 to $7,000 each. The new non-animal test, which is intended to replace the current animal test, takes three to four days to complete and costs less than half as much as the animal test.

Validation of this testing method is particularly timely in light of the bans on animal testing for cosmetics in the European Union, Israel, and India—all of which have also banned the marketing of animal-tested cosmetics, putting pressure on cosmetics companies to replace the use of animals in testing if they want to sell their products in these huge markets.

PETA U.K. also provided funds to support the validation of a non-animal skin irritation method that was subsequently accepted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and can replace the use of rabbits in dermal testing worldwide.

Cancer Testing

Through the McGrath Family Foundation of San Diego, which supports PETA’s efforts to replace animals in laboratories with modern alternatives, PETA awarded a $62,000 grant to the International QSAR Foundation (IQF) which is an ad hoc collaboration of scientists committed to the goal of developing QSAR (quantitative structure-activity relationship) methods for long-term adverse outcomes such as reproductive impairment, developmental toxicity, and carcinogenicity, to develop computer models to test the cancer-causing potential of chemicals and drugs in their developmental stages. Currently, every time a drug or a chemical is tested on animals to see if it causes cancer, as many as 400 animals are force-fed that drug or chemical for one to two years and then killed. Besides using no animals whatsoever, the computer models can be more precise than the animal-based tests.

This funding will support the acceptance of an alternative to carcinogenicity testing for drug development, cosmetics ingredients, and chemical testing. The IQF’s sophisticated models are a critical first step toward completely eliminating the use of animals in cancer testing.

Other Projects Funded by PETA

  • In addition to the IQF grant for a non-animal cancer testing method, PETA has provided more than $250,000 in the past five years to the IQF to help fund the development of the OECD QSAR Toolbox, a collection of computer models and databases that can be used to estimate toxicity—without the use of animals—for a wide range of chemicals and health effects. The OECD QSAR Toolbox will allow scientists and regulatory officials of the more than 30 OECD-member countries to access information about chemical toxicity and avoid animal testing when complying with chemical regulations. These tools will collectively provide information that will save tens of thousands of animals from chemical testing.
  • Other IQF projects funded in part by PETA have included the development of non-animal models to test for acute toxicity, allergic reactions, and endocrine activity.
  • The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd., of which PETA is a member, is funding the development of a non-animal test to assess the toxicity of nanomaterials when they are inhaled. Currently, experimenters place animals in small chambers and force them inhale large quantities of a test substance.
  • MatTek Corp. and the PETA International Science Consortium teamed up to increase the use of in vitro methods and decrease animal use by providing researchers with $15,000 worth of human cell–based 3D tissues. MatTek’s tissues can be used for product development, regulatory testing, and basic exploratory research applications that have traditionally used animals.
  • The PETA International Science Consortium is offering up to three cash prizes of approximately $8,000 to new contributors who add to the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) Wiki. AOPs describe cause-and-effect chains of events, starting with exposure to a chemical and ending with negative health effects. They are the wave of the future in determining the toxicity of substances in humans without using animals.

Click here to help support PETA’s efforts to fund alternatives to animal tests.