Machine Learning Could Make Animal Tests Obsolete
Alternatives to Animal Testing, Experimentation and Dissection - An Animal Rights Article from


September 2018

Every test that’s done on a computer means one less animal caged and experimented on, and that’s something that every animal advocate should celebrate.

computer tests


Animal advocates everywhere know that the fight against animal experimentation has long hinged on a tradeoff between ethics and efficacy. For a long time, advocates have waited for science to “catch up” to social consciousness; there has always been a tension between society’s reactions of horror at animal experiments, and scientists wringing their hands and explaining that these tests must happen because there is no other option.

This study was conducted to determine the possibility of replacing animal testing with technology and statistical models. The method in question is called RASAR, standing for “read-across structure activity relationships.” A library of known chemicals and their properties was created and made to be machine-readable. RASAR then takes the subject chemical and compares it to the library, giving us an idea of the subject’s chemical’s properties, including toxicity to humans, damage to water or air quality, volatility and flammability, carcinogenicity, and danger to eyes, skin, or respiratory organs. According to the authors, this process of RASAR testing was able to correctly predict these properties 80% of the time, and reproduce the results accurately. The scientists note that “’Simple’ RASARs obtain cross-validated sensitivities above 80% with specificities of 50%–70%” which they say “is on par with the reproducibility of the respective animal tests.”

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