From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1993:

Validation of non-animal tests gains momentum
Significant progress in validating non-animal toxicity tests was announced
during the summer by both the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to
Animal Testing and the Scandinavian Society of Cell Toxicology’s four-year-old
Multicenter Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity Tests program, headquartered in
Sweden. Validation is the process of establishing how test results relate to human health.
The Johns Hopkins team published a “Framework for the Validation and Implementation
of In Vitro Toxicity Tests” simultaneously in four leading scientific journals, hoping to
speed researcher interest, while the Swedish team, somewhat ahead of Johns Hopkins,
now has 90 European in vitro toxicologists working on a variety of tests of their own
design, measuring the toxicity of 50 chemicals with well-known effects on humans.
“Relevance remains the key problem,” John Frazier of the Johns Hopkins team
said. “It was clear from the beginning that the ill-defined nature of the ‘gold standard’ we
are trying to measure with an in vitro test––human toxicity––was going to be difficult.
It’s a moving target. Nobody has come up with a definitive solution.”

Bjorn Ekwall, director of the Swedish team, told colleagues at a recent confer-
ence that, “In my opinion, the scientific basis for replacement of standard toxicity tests
by test tube methods is already at hand. However, resources to support goal-directed and
sophisticated efforts cannot be taken for granted. To take the MEIC project as an exam-
ple, the results of today certainly could have been achieved years ago if the project had
been adequately funded.” The American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research has
long pushed antivivisection groups to help back validation studies, but response has
been weak. (AFAR is located at 175 West 12th St., Suite 16G, New York, NY 10011.)
Canadian military research secrets available––for a price
“Unlike the United States,” writes Tina Zierer, director of the Animal
Alliance of Canada, “the Canadian government does not issue information regarding the
numbers and species of animals used in research. Also unlike other countries, Canada
has no federal inspection of animal labs. Most disturbing, we have no federal legislation
pertaining to lab animals. Instead we have a peer review system set up by the Canadian
Council on Animal Care. CCAC is not backed by legislation, is not publicly account-
able, and since 1989 has not provided figures regarding lab animal use. Twenty-one of
the 22 CCAC member organizations have a vested interest in animal experimentation.
The most frustrating aspect of CCAC’s non-governmental status is that all records,
reports and statistics are inaccessible under the Access to Information Act,” even though
it is wholly funded by two federal agencies, the Medical Research Council and the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. “Because MRC and NSERC are
government bodies,” Zierer continues, “some records [kept by these agencies] are acces-
sible,” but not information regarding numbers of animals, details of experiments, and
the provision of pain relief. “Another government department, National Defence,
promised to forward their records just as soon as they received a check for $73,000, the
deposit requested on a total bill of approximately $162,300––$27,500 search and prepara-
tion time, $118,800 computer fees, and $16,000 reproduction costs.” The Animal
Alliance continues to explore means of bringing Canadian researchers to account.
Research Notes
Jackson Laboratory in Bar
Harbor, Maine, has begun mass-breed-
ing genetically engineered mice with high
susceptibility to human diseases including
cancer and cystic fibrosis, financed by
$1.5 million from the Howard Hughes
Medical Institute, the March of Dimes,
the American Heart Association, and the
American Cancer Society. Jackson
Laboratory is already the world’s leading
supplier of naturally occuring mutant mice.
President Clinton on August 4
named retrovirus researcher Dr. Harold
Varmus, 53, of the University of
California at San Francisco to succeed Dr.
Bernadine Healy as head of the National
Institutes of Health. Varmus’ views on
animal-based research are unclear. On the
one hand he is a known enthusiast of so-
called basic research, which is often ani-
mal-intensive, and on the other, he pre-
sumably passed the scrutiny of Clinton’s
science advisor, John Gibbons, who is
critical of animal research.
Dr. Andre C. Van Streirteghem
of the Brussels Free University in
Belgium has stunned colleagues by pro-
ducing 300 pregnancies by injecting single
sperm cells into human eggs––something
never successfully done with an animal
model. Fertilization expert Dr. Jon
Gordon of the Mt. Sinai Medical School
recently told Gina Kolata of The New York
Times that the lesson here is that, “Human
fertilization is astonishingly different from
that in other mammals.”
Evolutionary biologist Richard
Dawkins and Geza Teleki, chair of the
Committee for Conservation and Care
of Chimpanzees, were among 30 leading
scientists, writers, and philosophers who
published a “Declaration on Great Apes”
in late June, arguing that chimpanzees,
gorillas, and orangutans are so closely
related to us that they deserve the same
moral status as human beings. The project
was organized by Animal Liberation
author Peter Singer. According to Teleki,
as many as 5,000 chimps are currently
used in biomedical research, worldwide.
Many more were used before chimps
became highly endangered in the wild.
In Defense of Animals on
August 16 filed a formal complaint with
the USDA, alleging multiple Animal
Welfare Act violations by Russell
DeValois, a University of California at
Berkeley researcher whose work has come
under heavy criticism from humane advo-
cates for nearly 20 years. The university
was fined $12,000 in 1984 for previous
AWA violations involving the care of ani-
mals used in DeValois’ experiments.
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