Is animal testing reliable? Johns Hopkins professor answers

How reliable is animal testing? Is it an adequate predictor of human safety? We asked Thomas Hartung, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, as well as a number of others—including scientists from the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, a laboratory conducting research without the use of animals. Thomas’ answer, in a nutshell: “These (animal) tests are not human-relevant. We are not 70-kilogram rats! I think we have to be objective in the assessment of what the animal test is delivering. We will not open up for new approaches if we are not willing to appraise the traditional methodologies.”

Hear Thomas touch on the history of how cosmetics were originally federally regulated in the U.S., the barriers that researchers face with getting regulatory agencies to more widely accept alternative methods, and just how long and how much money it takes (spoiler alert: It’s a lot!) to get drugs to the market by means of animal tests.

Is animal testing the best means of achieving human safety, in regard to our use of drugs and chemicals? After hearing Thomas and others’, you be the judge.

It’s estimated that more than 50 million dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and other animals endure painful experiments in the U.S. each year. The horrors of animal testing appear to increasingly weigh on popular consciousness: Our short film Save Ralph about a laboratory “tester” rabbit inspired nearly 800 million SaveRalph posts, homages on TikTok, and drove more than 5 million people to sign a petition calling for an end to cosmetics animal testing. Animal testing is even a major theme in the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

The world is moving toward a future dominated by sophisticated methods that use human cells, tissues and organs, 3D printing, robotics, computer models and other technologies to create approaches to testing and research that do not rely on animals. At the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, we advocate for the immediate replacement of antiquated animal tests and experiments with available non-animal methods and funding to develop new human-relevant test methods.

We are determined to find ways to spare animals from suffering. Thanks to advances in technologies that test treatments for diseases and the effects of products, we don’t have to choose between saving human lives or animal lives.

We are urging state and federal governments, regulatory agencies (such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health), companies and universities to drastically increase the use of non-animal methods and investments in the development of new human-based, non-animal approaches.

Tell the FDA to put an end to animal testing:

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Thomas Hartung is the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, which was founded in 1981 as part of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a European branch (CAAT-Europe) located at the University of Kostanz, Germany. Hartung steers the revolution in toxicology to move away from 50+ year-old animal tests to organoid cultures and the use of artificial intelligence.

The Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc. is a non-profit research and testing laboratory dedicated to the advancement of in vitro (non-animal) methods worldwide. Founded in 1997, the Institute is unique in its position as a high quality testing laboratory while also offering technical and educational resources to advance the field.

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