The Way Forward

When the 3Rs concept of reducing animal experiments was first developed by Russell and Burch more than 40 years ago, the challenge was made from the ethical point of view, and was not appreciated by the scientific community in the life sciences. In their book The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, Russell and Burch defined the humanity criterion in the following manner: "The greatest scientific experiments have always been the most humane and the most aesthetically attractive, conveying that sense of beauty and elegance which is the essence of science at its most successful." [1]. Due to the rapid technical progress in cell and tissue culture, as well as in molecular biology and genetics, the majority of experimental studies in the life sciences today are conducted in vitro, and the number of studies in experimental animals is decreasing. In fact, in-vitro studies form the basis of the tiered experimental approach to drug development and toxicity testing, before any experiments are conducted on animals, or clinical studies on patients (see Fig. 10.1). The examples of the toxicity testing and production of hormones and other biologicals show that Russell and Burch's humanity criterion is in fact scientifically superior to the animal experiments conducted for the same purposes in the past.

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