Anti-Mouse Antibodies

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1745a
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1745a

Groups that want biomedical researchers to stop harvesting antibodies from mice are organizing a scientific panel to press their case.

Every year, scientists kill about a million mice to get monoclonal antibodies, used for everything from analyzing tissue samples to attacking cancer. In April, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee concluded that test tube alternatives were available for producing most antibodies (Science, 9 April, p. 230). But the panel, citing cost and other concerns, said it was too soon for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to follow four European nations in restricting the mouse, or “ascites,” method.

Proponents of such restrictions, notably the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, hope to combat what ARDF head John McCardle calls a “heavily biased” NAS report by assembling their own expert panel. The panel—to meet in August in Bologna, Italy—will also draft a guide for labs interested in alternatives.

Meanwhile, the groups have petitioned NIH to cut back on ascites production. They say a suit is possible if they are unhappy with NIH's response, expected later this year.

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