Is this Animal Testing progress? I think so.

ICCVAM authorized two different methods, the bovine corneal opacity and permeability (BCOP) assay and the isolated chicken eye (ICE) assay. These don't use live animals. I'm not exactly sure you could say that this wasn't tested in an animal, but close enough. Or at least that's what the director says. It really don't count as a reduction, but it certainly counts as refinement. As I'm always going on about, this is really a boon for drug and pesticide development and does nothing for risk assessment. Even in the press release (link above), it notes (thankfully):

If a positive response is obtained using either of the two new approved alternative methods, the product can be labeled as causing irreversible or severe eye damage and no live animal testing will be required. If the response is negative, the product is then tested in an animal to confirm that it does not cause severe or irreversible damage.

I predict based on my experience with such groups (and previous statements) that the animal rights crowd won't get very excited about this. It's only a positive screen and it's still using animals, just not whole. But if their goal is the better welfare of animals in research, they should be excited. The animal isn't around to feel the pain, in fact, the eyes likely come from animals that are being slaughtered for another reason so that's kinda a reduction. If it's negative, you still have to go into a live animal but theoretically you've already weeded out the big problems. So here's my plea to the animal rights folks: get excited about the steps we can make because no one is going to stop killing animals for a long time.

PS A good animal rights related read here.

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This is news?? I thought cow eyes had been in use for a long time. 24 years ago, as an undergraduate toxicology student, I did a seminar paper on alternatives to animal testing and talked about using cow eyes as alternatives to live animal testing (not that I'm opposed to animal testing; I just know it's cheaper and quicker to have some good screening methods, and I needed a good topic for a paper :)

So - is this a new thing? or a refinement/formal approval for a long-existing method?

You are right - the animal rights groups won't like it at all. When I did my paper, the eyes came from slaughterhouses where the rest of the cow was being made into dinner. Not what PETA is looking for, I think.

P.S. I'm not up-to-date on tox testing methods since I've squandered my toxicology degree on being an industrial hygienist. But I do enjoy the blog.

"The White Coats" will never let go of their victims (animals) who are supplied by monster research animal breeders, (including Man's Best Friend", the loyal, loving dog - a favorite "model") and financially supported on the lavish gravy trains of grants by government (National Inst. of Health) that keeps these Frankenstein torturers in the business of legalized animal cruelty. Until the public's perception and knowledge of the extent of cruelty inflicted upon imprisoned, innocent animals in every area of animal exploitation - and speak out, act and demand change - billions of animals will be condemned to lives of unspeakable misery and agonizing death.

Joe, you're right that it's not new but it is news that they have been validated and accepted by the government as alternatives. Squandered? Hardly, as someone having some Ind. Hyg. background, I would say the tox is well used!

Nita, you are exactly the stumbling block. Until you can accept incremental changes, people aren't going to listen to you. In fact, your post almost reads as satire. Also, should we only test nasty animals? If a docile disposition is the key to being saved from medical research, I suppose we could use some really nasty people to test on instead.

Also, as I've said before "I don't see animals as small furry people (or in the case of bears, big furry people)".