The European Commission for Research (ECR) recently announced a method of testing drugs for fever-causing agents called pyrogens that if widely adopted could prevent the killing in laboratories of approximately 200,000 rabbits per year.
The method, which involves the use of human blood cells grown in test tubes, not only requires less labor than the test for which rabbits are necessary, but is more accurate and cost-effective.
European Union law requires alternatives to laboratory experiments involving animals to be used after they have been proven reliable.
The new method is currently being validated by the ECR. Its approval is expected to be given shortly.
"The European Union's validation of this new testing method will encourage its broad take-up by industry and reduce the use of animal research," said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.