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LIFE SCIENCE TECHNOLOGIES: Animal-Free Toxicology: Sometimes, in Vitro is Better

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Science  02 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6072, pp. 1122-1125
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6072.1122


The next time you use shampoo, air freshener, or moisturizing cream, consider this: How do you know it's safe? In all likelihood, whatever toxicologic screening its component ingredients were subjected to involved laboratory animals, the method of choice for decades and the industry's reigning "gold standard." Yet as Bob Dylan once put it, the times, they are a-changing. Animal-based testing is expensive and time-consuming, morally and ethically troubling, and most significantly, often a poor predictor of human toxicity. Animals aren't going anywhere just yet. But their numbers are dropping. Driven both by legislative mandate and scientific need, a new suite of in vitro and cell culture-based animal-free methods are gaining a foothold in toxicology labs.