Friday, August 16, 2013

"Artificial Skin" Potential Animal Testing Alternative

The release of ThinCert Cell Cultures by multinational biotech company Greiner-One seems to be the perfect opportunity raise questions about the scientifically sound alternatives to animal testing. For the past few decades, animal testing has offered the only viable method of experimenting on intact, living tissue. Products like ThinCert may change that.
Source: http://faq.greinerbioone.com/images/159/ThinCert.jpg
I am perhaps a non-ideal candidate for reporting on issues having to do with animal testing, since I probably couldn't give fewer fucks eliminating it about it. Can't even find two fucks to rub together. I have done research on animals, I've performed my share of vivisections, and I think animal research is one of the most important tools in the scientific arsenal to provide safe and effective treatments to humans. Let's just say that I would sacrifice a lot of rats to save a few people. I'm also aware of the stringent requirements placed on animal researchers and feel that if you are concerned about animal wellbeing, you'll find a lot more animal mistreatment looking through a few "Craigslist: Pets" ads than you will in laboratories. "Guinea pigs need more space than that, dickfaces!" (Some of the requirements on researchers are so strict as to be directly counterproductive. For example, I had some friends running pharmaceutical trials on rats. Because they had to guarantee that the rats would be kept in optimal conditions until the rats died, they were unable to adopt the rats out after the study concluded, since they could be held liable if anything happened to one of their many, many subjects. Instead of finding adoptive homes, they were forced to euthanize them. Probably not what PETA had in mind...)

[As a side note, companies that claim that their ingredients have never been tested on animals irritate me to no end. Just because you personally didn't test on animals doesn't mean that the ingredients have not been. Indeed, the tests on animals that have been conducted are one of the reasons that we know that your products are safe!]

With my personal feelings aside, obviously there are lots of people who feel very strongly that animal testing is unethical. If we eliminate animal testing for cosmetics, we are, in essence, left with three options:
  1. Literally never try anything new in cosmetics ever, ever again.
  2. Give potentially unsafe products to consumers. Lash Lure 2.0!
  3. Create alternatives to animal testing (that don't involve human guinea pigs). 
Clearly, the latter of those is the most appealing option, and it is the niche that Greiner-One hopes to fill with ThinCert. Usually, in-vitro tests involve cells that were cultured in a petri dish or something of that ilk. Tests for product efficacy using this method can hardly be considered applicable to human beings. Traits such as cell migration, cell communication, and tissue differentiation are not accounted for with such crude methods. With ThinCert, these problems have been solved, making a much more realistic method for exploring potential dangers such as cytotoxicity. 

Even for those who have no vested interest in animal testing, there are huge benefits here. Scientists do have to work really, really hard to create humane environments for their subjects, and that gets expensive as hell. If you have 50 cages, you get to have 50 rats. Need more than 50 rats? Well, I guess you're going to have a long-ass study. Enjoy doing the same shit over and over and over again! These kinds of products could save significant money. 

Does the release of this product mean we can euthanize all our lab rats in celebration? (I mean... send them to the farm...?) Definitely not!

Unfortunately, these tests can only simulate a really narrow variety of potential pitfalls. Want to know if neon pigments are eye-safe? You simply need eyes for the test, period. One day, we might have a product like this hanging out in cosmetics companies labs across the US:

Let's face it, though. If we had a product like this, people would be pissed as hell about this, too!
Source: http://media.tumblr.com/a6c7acc8d4af3d11e9e25b4761f7b753/tumblr_inline_mgmyhxPSsw1qhsfhh.png
But we just aren't quite there yet. 

8 comments:

  1. I had to stop in the middle of reading to comment on how hilariously appropriate the picture of Cassandra is! lol I love it!

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  2. Thoughts on vivo testing: ya, grand, needs to be done & done humanely, more needs to be done to weed out sociopathic grad students (yes I worked with one and I ran like hell), it should keep going on, just not be done by me because I tear up when I have to kill a catfish, forget when I had to behead rats. Thank you and good night.

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  3. I've always hated the phrase "cruelty free". it seems so arbitrary and inflammatory to me. I agree with this whole post.

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    Replies
    1. The term "cruelty free" bugs me a lot...

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  4. Well, that unexpected Whovian creature certainly scared the shit out of me.

    I, for one, am sometimes torn-up about animal testing (and vegetarianism and so on). Obviously, as a consumer, it's much easier to not care about it, to not have to check whether a mascara is PETA (ugh)-approved. But the thought of anyone sticking applicators in my own pet animal's eyes is rage-inducing. So a fancy, scientific, expensive option made by man-playing-God is pretty damn convenient.

    My proposed solution is to test on hardcore masochists. It is based upon the idea I got in my head as a child that characters who died in movies were played by suicidal actors and actually died.

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    Replies
    1. Haha that's an idea. That raises a LOT more ethical questions, though, I think.

      It also wouldn't work at all in medicine!

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  6. There are potions and remedies for aging skin on the shelf in every grocery store and pharmacy in the known universe. Words like moisturizes, lanolin and collagen, or the clinchers, "reduces wrinkles" and "prevents aging", are tossed about - easily mistaken for promises - without the consumer really having the slightest clue what any of it means. rejuvenation skin treatment

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