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Animal experimentation in snake venom research and in vitro alternatives

Sells, Paula G. (2003) 'Animal experimentation in snake venom research and in vitro alternatives'. Toxicon, Vol 42, Issue 2, pp. 115-133.

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Current experimental techniques used in snake venom research (with and without the use of animals) are reviewed. The emphasis is on the reduction of the use of animals in the development of antivenoms for the clinical treatment of snakebite. Diagnostic and research techniques for the major pathologies of envenoming are described and those using animals are contrasted with non-sentient methods where possible. In particular, LD(50) and ED(50) assays using animals (in vivo) and fertilised eggs (in vivo, non-sentient) are compared as well as in vitro procedures (ELISA and haemolytic test) for ED50 estimations. The social context of antivenom production, supply and demand is outlined together with the consequent tension between the benefits derived and the increase in opposition to experiments on animals. Stringent regulations governing the use of animals, limited research funds and public pressure all focus the need for progress towards non-animal, or non-sentient, research methods. Some achievements are noted but success is hampered by lack of detailed knowledge of the many constituents of venom which have to be assessed as a whole rather than individually. The only way to evaluate the net pathological effect of venom is to use a living system, usually a rodent, and similarly, the efficacy of antivenoms is also measured in vivo. The pre-clinical testing of antivenoms in animals is therefore a legal requirement in many countries and is strictly monitored by government authorities. New technologies applied to the characterisation of individual venom proteins should enable novel in vitro assays to be designed thus reducing the number of animals required. In the meantime, the principles of Reduce, Refine and Replace relating to animals in research are increasingly endorsed by those working in the field and the many agencies regulating ethical and research policy. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QV Pharmacology > Toxicology > General Toxicology > QV 601 Antidotes and other therapeutic measures
QV Pharmacology > Toxicology > General Toxicology > QV 602 Detection of poisons. Tests. Laboratory manuals. Technique
WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or Environmental Origin, etc > Animal Poisons > WD 410 Reptiles
Faculty: Department: Groups (2002 - 2012) > Molecular & Biochemical Parasitology Group
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Users 494 not found.
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2013 16:49
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2018 13:04


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