Fortunately in today's world, scientists are working hard on non animal methods to assess safety and efficacy of ingredients and formulations. They continue to develop new cell and tissue tests, computer models and other sophisticated methods to replace existing animal tests that are cheaper, more reliable, and faster, and of course more humane.
In the US, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) validates alternative methods, and recommends them for use to the scientific and governmental communities in partnership with international bodies.
To date, more than 50 validated in vitro (uses human cells or tissues) or in silico (uses computers) alternatives have been approved, with more on the way!
Types of Alternatives
Artificial Skin development
EpiSkin™, EpiDerm™ and SkinEthic, are each composed of artificial human skin cells, can spare thousands of rabbits annually from painful skin corrosion and irritation tests.
The Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test
The Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test (BCOP) uses eyes from animals slaughtered for the meat industry instead of live rabbits to detect chemicals and products that are severely irritating to the eyes.
The 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Test can replace the use of mice and other animals in the testing of substances for their potential to cause sunlight-induced phototoxicity by measuring the relative reduction in viability of cells exposed to the chemical in question with and without light.
Organ on a Chip Technology
This technology contains human cells grown replicate the structure and function of human organs and organ systems, including the lung, intestine, kidney, skin, bone marrow and blood-brain barrier. Each chip is essentially a living three-dimensional cross-section of a living person.
Researchers have developed sophisticated computer models that simulate human biology in a way that can actively predict how a substance will react in the human body.
Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) are computer-based techniques that can predict the probability of a substance to be hazardous based on its similarity to existing substances.
Research on human volunteers
Human volunteers can be microdosed, that is given a very small dose of a substance to test its effects.