Duluth, Minn. -- Tomorrow, PETA will donate $120,000 to the Duluth-based International QSAR Foundation to Reduce Animal Testing to further its important work aimed at improving toxicity testing and saving the lives of millions of animals who are routinely maimed and killed in laboratory experiments. PETA will present the check at the McKim Conference tomorrow, September 25, at the Inn on Lake Superior in Duluth. The annual McKim Conference provides a stimulating environment for scientists, regulators, and other stakeholders to identify scientific barriers to intelligent testing paradigms and to discuss critical pathways of research to overcome those barriers. The International QSAR Foundation then facilitates special projects to develop the proposed solutions.
Under the direction of founder Dr. Gilman Veith--a pioneer of a technology known as quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR)--the foundation's work holds promise for greatly reducing the number of animals used in chemical safety testing by developing databases and computer modeling tools that increase the accuracy of QSAR models. QSAR methodology uses mathematical modeling of the structure of chemicals to determine their levels of toxicity. This "virtual testing" will also improve the development of in vitro methods--producing results that are faster, more accurate, less expensive, and far more humane than animal tests.
The foundation's work is being applied to major testing methods required by the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Service, and international regulatory testing agencies and include acute and chronic oral, dermal, and inhalation toxicity, all of which cause extreme pain and suffering to the animals used. This work is fundamental to enacting the vision for a more intelligent and humane toxicity testing strategy that was set forth recently in a landmark report by the National Academy of Sciences.
"Minimizing animal testing is an important national goal, much like putting a man on the moon was in the 1960s," said Veith. "While we committed public money to create the technology for flying to the moon, there has been little public funding for the QSAR technology that eliminates the need for the animal tests used back in the 1960s. The Foundation is grateful to PETA for supporting this science and hopes the chemical industry and our government will do likewise."
In recent years, PETA has donated $760,000 toward the development of alternatives to animal testing. This award is funded by the estate of former Memphis resident Lavelle Shaw Brooks, who made a bequest dedicated to the development of alternatives to animal testing.
"Not only is testing toxic substances on animals cruel, it's also bad science," says PETA Director Jessica Sandler. "We hope that our gift to the International QSAR Foundation will be an incentive for others in the scientific community to move away from outdated, ineffective, and cruel animal testing."