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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Campaigns & lobbying


FRAME proactively campaigns for changes to the way in which animals are used in research and testing


These campaigns include:


Cosmetic Use of Botulinum Toxin

The cosmetic use of botulinum toxin (of which Botox is one brand) continues and now out-strips the use of these products for medical purposes. The main cosmetic uses are to stop excessive sweating and reduce wrinkles. However, the illusion of youth it offers, comes at the price of repeated animal suffering.


Botulinum toxin is produced by bacteria and is one of the most powerful poisons known. It is responsible for the potentially fatal food poisoning called botulism. It weakens or totally paralyses muscle activity, by preventing muscles from accepting nerve signals.


The toxin was originally used for medical purposes, to treat squinting. Since then, over 50 other medical uses have been found for the toxin, including the treatment of facial spasms, migraine, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and back pain.


The cosmetic market for the toxin is lucrative since small doses of toxin injected into the face cause wrinkles to be smoothed out.


It is important to know the exact potency of the toxin, in order to administer doses that are both safe and effective for the envisaged treatment. However, because the toxin is a biological product, the potency varies from batch to batch. This means that each batch has to be tested.


The test involves injecting mice with the toxin and potency is calculated from the dose that is required to cause paralysis or death.


The paradox is that even when Botulinum toxin is used cosmetically it is still tested like a medical product and not like a cosmetic product. This is important since it is no longer permitted to test finished cosmetic products on animals in the EU.


Clearly, there are important medical reasons for the continued use of botulinum toxin. Therefore, it is vital for new test systems to become available, which will avoid the use of animals. Some methods have already been developed, but a greater effort is required to optimise and validate them. In an ideal world, a moratorium would be declared on the trivial, non-medical use of botulinum toxin until such time as it can be tested by humane methods. In reality, commercial opportunism and individual vanity will undoubtedly prevail over ethics, especially if public pressure is lacking. This sad fact adds even more urgency to the pressing need for valid non-animal alternatives to the currently used potency test.


See a report published by FRAME and titled "Growing old disgracefully - the cosmetic use of botulinum toxin" (pdf format)

Initiative on the EU chemicals policy

The FRAME initiative is intended to ensure that non-animal methods such as computer modelling and cell culture are strongly featured in any strategy for assessing around 30,000 existing chemicals for which safety data are deemed to be inadequate.

Recent events include:


A report from ECVAM (European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods) has been published in ATLA and will form the basis for FRAME's proposals relating to the use of non-animal approaches in toxicity testing.


Funding is being sought for a FRAME research project on the development and validation of computerised QSAR and expert systems for hazard prediction and prioritisation of chemicals for testing.


FRAME is contacting interested parties, including DEFRA, the principal government department responsible for dealing with the EC on this issue, with a view to holding a workshop that will aim to formulate a set of recommendations for the EC.


FRAME’s Response to the UK Consultation Paper on the new EU Chemicals Strategy – REACH


Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

FRAME played a key role, in collaboration with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation (CRAE), in advising the government on the preparation and passage through the UK Parliament of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which came into force on 1 January 1987. FRAME continues to make its views known to the government and MPs through the All Party Parliamentary FRAME Group and through its responses to consultation exercises, as seen in the examples below:

The APC Consultation Paper on the Cost/Benefit Assessment


Response to the Home Office Review of the Ethical Review Process (ERP)


Evidence provided to the Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures


Comments on the report of the Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures

(a) General comments
(b) On the establishment of a national 3Rs centre


Response to the APC Consultation Paper on Openness and Animal Procedures