21st Century Toxicology

There are two compelling reasons for ending animal testing:

1) It is cruel
Most safety tests conducted on animals are done without anaesthetics or analgesia, and toxic substances can cause immense suffering over long periods of time. Even where regulations require minimum standards of housing and husbandry, these cannot eliminate the fear and distress that animals in laboratories experience on a daily basis.

2) It is ineffective
The biochemistry, physiology, size and lifespan of animals vary according to species (and even breeds) and affect the toxicity of test substances. Substances safe for mice or rats may not be safe for humans and vice versa. Some chemicals, approved as safe following animal tests, have been damaging to humans and have had to be withdrawn.

In April 2015 Lush Prize compiled a short summary paper giving key examples of drugs which have failed after being considered successful in animal tests.
Download Lush Prize – Short list of animal testing failures (PDF).


21st Century Toxicology

21st -Century Toxicology is a new approach to safety testing which is exciting regulators, toxicologists, campaigners and companies around the world. It has become possible because of advances in biology, genetics, computer science and robotics.

21st-Century Toxicology focusses on human ‘toxicity pathways’, the sequences of molecular changes within the body’s cells that follow exposure to a toxic chemical. As these molecular pathways are elucidated for different groups of chemicals and different toxic effects, computer technology will help identify the key steps that can then be used to design non-animal safety tests.

Many of these new tests will be done robotically, providing more cost-effective chemical assessment and helping to clear the backlog of untested substances. They offer better relevance to humans (rather than using mice, rats and rabbits), and will explain the underlying causes of toxicity.

Unlike animal methods, the new tests will help predict human variability and differential effects on embryos, children and adults. And as the superior scientific basis of the new approach is recognised, outdated animal tests will be replaced.

The Black Box Prize offers, in any one year, an award up to the full £250,000 Lush Prize fund for a key breakthrough in human toxicity pathways research.


For more information on 21st-Century Toxicology see:

Humane Society International (video)

National Academy of Sciences Introduction (3pp pdf)

Human Toxicology Project Document (2pp pdf)

US National Academy of Sciences (Book 196pp)