News FocusAnimal Experimentation

Humane Science Finds Sharper and Kinder Tools

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1068-1071
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1068

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BOLOGNA, ITALY-- More and more researchers have been using fewer laboratory animals for compassion's sake; in fact, the use of lab animals has declined in many European countries--in some cases by as much as 50% over the past 2 decades. Thanks to new experimental techniques, many scientists are getting cleaner results, too, creating a mood of cautious optimism among the more than 800 researchers who gathered here recently for the Third World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences. They exchanged information on a variety of technologies--including implantable sensors and new imaging techniques to replace invasive procedures--that are already reducing the number of animals and lessening distress. And researchers reported progress in several areas--such as DNA arrays and tests using stem cells--that could help drug companies rule out dangerous compounds before they're tested in animals.