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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 17 April 2001 Fact Sheet:

Part C


"Accurate" Alternative To Animal Testing

In Vitro Acute Toxicity Tests More Predictive Than Animal Tests

Researchers addressing the substantial scientific and humane difficulties presented by animal tests for acute toxicity (see companion paper on the LD50) have recently met with great success. Dr. Björn Ekwall and colleagues in the Multicenter Evaluation of In-Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) trial based in Uppsala, Sweden, have released final data from 29 independent laboratories. By testing a set of 50 chemicals with 61 different in vitro assays, the scientists demonstrated that these nonanimal, human cell line tests are more predictive of human toxicity than in vivo (animal) data. While animal tests are at best only about 65 percent predictive of human acute toxicity, a combination of four cell tests can determine if a substance is dangerous to humans with better than 80 percent precision.

By working with poison control centers worldwide and performing an extensive literature search, the MEIC scientists chose 50 chemicals that have both a well-defined human toxicological profile and substantial data on acute toxicity in animals. By doing so, they ensured they were comparing the results of the new cellular tests with “gold standard” results from human exposure and the best information that could be garnered from acute toxicity tests in animals.

After testing each of the reference chemicals with the 61 different in vitro assays, it was clear that several cell tests were superior to animal tests. On average, the MEIC tests had a better than 69 percent prediction of human toxicity (R2 0.686). A multivariate analysis was then performed to identify the most effective combination of tests, and the researchers also assessed each test for ease of use and viability as an immediate replacement method. This analysis identified a battery of four cell tests (the MEIC 1,5,9,16 basal cytotoxicity battery) that in combination are the most effective predictors of human acute toxicity, reaching a 77 percent correlation to human data.

The predictive power of this battery was further boosted by adding a simple analysis to compensate for brain sensitivity to chemical compounds. When this was done, accuracy of the MEIC battery reached an astounding 83 percent accuracy in predicting actual human acute toxicity, compared to about 65 percent accuracy from animal tests.

These results likely understate the accuracy of the MEIC battery for common chemicals, since the battery reaches 88 percent precision when outlier chemicals are excluded. Only seven outliers were found in the MEIC trial. All are known to lead to lethality by actions on specific receptors or cells, and their toxicity is also, in several cases, poorly predicted by animal toxicity tests. For example, animal tests provide clearly false predictions of human lethal dose for three of the MEIC outliers (digoxin, nicotine, atropine), and the rat Lethal Dose-50 percent (LD50) for another outlier (paracetamol) is at least seven times the LD50 for mice.

The MEIC battery gives scientists a lethal blood concentration (inhibitory concentration, or IC50) measurement, considered to be the most relevant single toxicity measurement. It is “well suited for comparisons with the most common criteria of human and animal toxicity (average human blood concentrations, LD50 values, etc.).” (Clemedson C, McFarlane-Abdulla E, Andersson M, et al. MEIC Evaluation of Acute Systemic Toxicity. ATLA 1996;24:273-311.)

In summary, the MEIC trial provides a four-test in vitro battery that has undergone an international, muticenter trial to ensure accuracy. It can be employed now as a replacement for animal tests of acute toxicity. The 83 to 85 percent accuracy of the battery far exceeds that of animal tests. On a large sample of chemicals, animal tests would likely misrepresent the acute toxicity of roughly one-third of the substances. By employing the MEIC battery, we can expect a more accurate prediction of human toxicity. Formal validation of the MEIC battery of in vitro tests for interagency purposes is desirable, but is not necessary for use by single agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dissection Alternatives

Listed below are common, readily-available humane alternatives to animals frequently used in classroom dissection exercises. For information on alternatives to animals not listed below, or for any further assistance, please contact PCRM.



The Digital Frog by Digital Frog International; CD-ROM; phone 519-766-1097;

DissectionWorks by Science Works; CD-ROM; phone 800-478-8476;

The Great American Bullfrog by Denoyer-Geppert; Model; phone 800-621-1014


Fetal Pig DissectionWorks by Science Works; CD-ROM; phone 800-478-8476;

BioLab Pig by Pierian Spring Software; CD-ROM; phone 800-472-8578;

Fetal Pig, Female by WARD’s; Model; phone 800-962-2660; 


Cat Dissection Laboratory by Neotek; CD-ROM; phone 412-521-1111;

CatLab 2.2 by Interactive Technology Group; CD-ROM; phone 800-448-4008;

Pregnant Cat Model Activity Set by WARD’s; Model; phone 800-962-2660; 


DissectionWorks by Science Works; CD-ROM; phone 800-478-8476;

BioLab Invertebrate by Pierian Spring Software; CD-ROM; phone 800-472-8578;

Earthworm by WARD’s; Model; phone 800-962-2660; 


BioLab Invertebrate by Pierian Spring Software; CD-ROM; phone 800-472-8578;

Biology Dissections - Starfish by Cross Educational Software; Computer Program; phone 800-768-1969

Starfish Model by WARD’s; Model; phone 800-962-2660; 



St. Joseph County in Michigan has an arrangement to sell displaced pets from Animal Control for $4 to a class B animal dealer who resells them for agonizing medical research for up to $700 per pet.

On August 15, 2000, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners was presented with a petition signed by over 3,600 citizens asking that the pound seizure practice be stopped.

Commissioners Carter, Loudenslager, Bordner and Girtner used their votes to overrule the will of their constituents and persisted in this cruel practice.

A citizens group, Citizens For Ethical Government, plans to protest both the animal cruelty and the breach of Democracy.

Here are the commissioners to contact who voted against animals and sample letter is below:

Gerald Loudenslager
23194 Van Resort Drive
Mendon, MI 49072
Home: 616-467-791
[email protected] 

Lillian Carter
67339 Blue School Road
Constantine, MI 49042
Home: 616-435-7664

David Girton
21269 Fawn River Drive
Sturgis, MI 49091
Home and Business: 616-651-8941

Monte Bordner
68730 County Farm Road
Sturgis, MI 49091
Home and Business: 616-651-8353
[email protected] 

The Courthouse address is:
125 W. Main
Centerville, MI 49032
Fax 616-467-5628

Animal Control address is:
652 E. Main Centerville, MI 49032
616-467-5519 no fax

Dear ( )

I am asking that St. Joseph County Animal Control stop selling dogs for research. These dogs are pets who were raised to be companions and not a tool for research.

Dogs who were once well loved companions suffer the double trauma of confinement to a laboratory cage and the loss of their human friends.

The citizens of your county have asked this to stop, yet the county board members have ignored this. Personal reasons should not be the motive for allowing pound seizure to continue.

Sincerely, (Full name and state)

staff: [email protected]   (^..^ Lisa Marie^..^)

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