The UK animal welfare group PETA has announced that it is funding work in the US to validate a non-animal skin allergy test. The group expects the method being funded to be ready for commercial use “far in advance” of the timeframe recently published in a European Commission–sponsored report on the availability of alternative methods, which stated that non-animal methods for skin sensitisation would not be available until 2017 (CW 12 May 2011).
Following an in-depth search for a project with the capacity to deliver the greatest benefit, PETA is contributing more than £70,000 initially to the first phase of the validation study. "This donation is important because it puts PETA and its affiliates in a unique position of not only championing the need for new non-animal tests but also providing money to help make it happen,” commented Tim Mitchell, president of CeeTox, the US-based concern which will carry out the formal validation work. Alistair Currie, PETA's policy adviser said the group was excited to take the opportunity to apply good science to protect people and save a large number of animals from painful experiments.
The new non-animal test is intended as a full replacement for animal tests currently in use that take weeks to perform and cost approximately £2,500 to £4,500, says PETA. The new test will take three to four days to complete and cost half as much as the animal tests.
PETA points out that validation of the testing method is particularly timely in light of the upcoming ban on sales of cosmetics in Europe that have been tested on animals – as of 2013, cosmetics that have been tested on animals will no longer be able to be marketed in the European Union, although there is some discussion at present if this can be achieved.