This is great news! We will get more efficient science, and can limit suffering.
According to an agreement involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. National Toxicology Program, toxicity tests will start being done using human cells in laboratories, robots, and computer modeling. This approach should enable researchers to analyze more data on the toxic effects of chemicals -- ranging from pesticides to household cleaners -- more quickly, greatly reducing the need for animal testing, the scientists said."The research collaboration we are announcing today really has the potential to revolutionize the way toxic chemicals are identified," Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, said during a morning teleconference.Historically, toxicity has been determined by injecting chemicals into lab animals and watching to see if they got sick. "Though that approach has given us valuable information, it is expensive, it is time-consuming, it uses animals in large numbers, and it doesn't always predict which chemicals will be harmful to humans," Collins said.These new methods include using high-speed, automated screening robots to test suspected toxic compounds, instead of using laboratory animals.For example, the National Toxicology Program has been in existence for about 30 years. During that time, using animals, the program has tested 2,500 chemicals. However, using the new methods, the testing of 2,500 compounds in 15 different concentrations can be done in a single afternoon, the federal scientists said.