Skip Navigation

The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique

W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch

CHAPTER 5

REPLACEMENT

With respect to the "analogical" ... resemblances between organic beings ...

Comparative Substitution

We shall use the term "replacement technique" for any scientific method employing non-sentient material which may in the history of experimentation replace methods which use conscious living vertebrates. Among this non-sentient material, we include higher plants, microorganisms, and the more degenerate metazoan endoparasites, in which nervous and sensory systems are almost atrophied. To shed obsessional tears over the fate of these organisms would bring the whole concept of humanity into contempt by Samuel Butler's famous reductio ad absurdum--the Erewhonian philosopher who inquired whether salt can feel.

A more difficult question arises when we consider the free-living metazoan invertebrates. We have arbitrarily excluded them from consideration as objects of humanitarian concern. It remains to consider them in the light of possible substitutes for vertebrate subjects. Such a procedure may be called comparative substitution.

The responses of insects and mammals to insecticides suggest that these two groups have much in common at the level of fundamental metabolism at which many toxic substances act (Winteringham and Barnes, 1955; cf. also Anon., Nature, 1956a). The fruit fly Drosophila has been employed for titration of the antivenene for the venom of an Australian spider, and its use.

"...enables a larger number of lethal doses of venom to be injected and neutralized than is practicable in the case of mice. A more reliable estimate of the potency of the serum is therefore possible... There is a considerable saving in the amount of venom required for assaying antivenene, and results are available within 24 hr. The method... might prove useful for assaying antisera of medical importance prepared against other venoms and toxins which also happen to be toxic to insects" (Wiener and Drummond, 1956).

In another context, the octopus has been described as a more suitable subject than the albino rat for studies on the mechanism of visual form discrimination (Sutherland, 1957). There are several contexts in which vertebrates might be replaced by invertebrates. Where toxicity is concerned, relatively simple metazoa might meet some requirements.

Such suggestions raise nice issues. Baker (1948) suggests a commonsense divisions between higher and lower invertebrate groups. But many polychaete worms have highly-evolved responses to damaging and startling stimuli (Nicol, 1948). Even sea anemones have mechanisms capable of controlling their behavior over long periods (Pantin, 1952). In spite of this, we may agree with Baker that a line, or a set of lines, could be drawn in principle. Meanwhile, we may regard comparative substitution as a limited gain, while admitting that the argument should be used with caution. In fact, there does not seem to have been much progress in this direction, if we discount the quite irrelevant case of substitution of invertebrate for vertebrate tissues in vitro. The problem is raised only for completeness, and from now on we shall consider only the wholly desirable progress and prospects of replacement proper.

TABLE OF CONTENTS | NEXT SECTION

New ALTEX: 3/2017
ALTEX 3/2017 cover

Support ALTWEB, Make a Gift
Online Humane Science Course

MeetingS

 
FRAME Training School in Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis
May 31-June 2, 2017
Saskatoon, Canada

Advances in Cell and Tissue Culture 2017
May 22-24, 2017
Manchester, UK

CAAT Academy
In Vitro Skin and Eye Models Hands-on Training
June 1-2 2017
Brussels, Belgium

CAAT Academy
Tools for Read-Across
June 15-16, 2017
Helsinki, Finland

ecopa SSCT Workshop 2017
June 14-16, 2017
Helsinki, Finland
Thomas Hartung will deliver a keynote address

CAAT Academy
Updates on Hepatotoxicity AOP Landscape and on the ADME Field - Season 2
June 22-23, 2017
Rennes, France

9th Euro-Global Summit on Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
June 22-24, 2017
Paris, France
Email for Details

6th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology (ASCCT)
September 21-22
College Park, MD

SAVE THE DATE:
10th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences
August 20-24, 2017
Seattle, Washington

CAAT Academy
Hands-on Training in Quantitative Human Cell and Effect-based In Vitro Bioanalysis for Assessing Endocrine-disrupting Compounds (EDCs)
September 7-8. 2017
Amsterdam
 

More Meetings...