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Award recognises alternative to animal tests

16 Jul, 2008

Source: MAF, July 2008

Four scientists have received an award for developing a test that may help replace mice used in shellfish toxin tests.

When algal toxins bind to voltage gated sodium ion channels (VGSCs) they disrupt normal nerve and muscle function. They can also can produce poisoning with neurological effects that range from irritated nasal passages and coughing to paralysis.

The new in vitro test uses VGSC from human skeletal muscle to test the safety of potentially contaminated shellfish and drinking water. Currently the main internationally validated biological method to measure toxicity involves tests on mice, some of which die in the process.

The Three Rs Award is given annually by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. The award recognises work that helps replace live animal subjects, reduce the number of animals used, and refine experimental techniques to minimize pain and distress

“The Three Rs are the cornerstone of the ethical use of animals in research, testing and teaching,” NAEAC chairperson John Martin says.

“This award celebrates achievements in the implementation of the Three Rs and promotes the concept within the scientific community and to the wider public. This prototype has the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of the use of animals in testing.”

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