The big yellow robot in the picture above has the potential to save at least some innocent animals from being poisoned, and that's a start. The big yeller' is a high-throughput robot capable of testing thousands of cell-based chemical tests at a time, enabling toxicity results in a matter of hours, as opposed to years of animal testing.
Earlier this month, three divisions of the NIH and EPA -- the National Toxicology Program, the Chemical Genomics Center (both under the NIH) and the National Center for Computational Toxicology (under the EPA) -- agreed to "coordinate their resources to better identify toxicity pathways, select chemicals for testing, analyze and interpret data, and promote their findings to scientific and regulatory communities." (Feds Agree To Toxicity Tests That Cut Animal Testing)
In spite of this agreement, the details of how these research and data-sharing goals will be accomplished have yet to be worked out. In the meantime, animal testing for toxicity will continue in these government agencies, even though the research is expensive, time consuming, and isn't necessarily providing accurate data on how humans will react to the toxins.
Robots and biochips (MetaChips and DataChips), are currently being used in government and private chemical and drug research, to examine the effects of toxicity on animal and human liver and bladder cells, as well as on embryonic cells. Unlike the robots, however, biochips don't have the capacity to test hundreds of thousands of cell samples at one time.
Further efforts to use these innovations will no doubt be stepped up, as the European Union's ban on chemical testing of animals begins one year from now.
That's the mixed buzz for today!
Conference Transcript NIH/EPA February 14, 2008
Feds Agree To Toxicity Tests That Cut Animal Testing
Finding What's Toxic Fast