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Reduce cruelty to mice in testing Botulinum toxin by introduction of SNAP-25 assay
Dr. Patrick Treacy, Medical Director of Ailesbury Clinics issued this statement to Dr. Katy Taylor, Secretariat of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) when recently questioned about animal suffering during Botulinum testing
By: Ailesbury Media
As someone with further qualifications in Molecular Biology, it is apparent alternative assays to replace in vivo bioassay methods for assessment of the safety and potency of these botulinum neurotoxin-based therapeutic products are now urgently needed. If the SNAP-25 assay you mention has proved to be more sensitive than the mouse bioassay for detection of toxin in therapeutic preparations then you have my full support in your endeavour to replace this other unnecessary method.
This was in response to this letter
Dear Dr. Treacy,
I am contacting you because as a cosmetic/health clinic you offer botox treatment. We would like to draw your attention to an important issue of animal cruelty about which we believe you and your customers will be concerned.
It has been reported in both The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers. Dr Nick Lowe, a well known practitioner who uses botox products, is quoted in the Sunday Times that he is "appalled" to learn of the animal suffering.
The BUAV has revealed, for the first time, graphic, disturbing evidence of the cruelty and suffering inflicted on thousands of mice every year for the worldwide craze of using botox products to temporarily reduce facial lines and wrinkles. Despite a UK and EU ban on the use of animals for cosmetic testing, there is a loophole in the law which allows animals to continue to suffer dreadfully in tests for botox product that, although licensed for medical use, could very well end up being used – quite legally - for cosmetic purposes.
We placed an undercover worker in Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire for 8 months to the end of October 2009. She secretly filmed the appalling suffering inflicted on thousands of animals inside the facility; in particular the batch testing of Dysport. The mice are poisoned using the cruel and controversial LD50 (lethal dose) test. No pain relief is given to the mice; many of whom suffer increasing paralysis and difficulty breathing and if left will eventually suffocate to death.
As a token consideration with respect to animal welfare, workers were supposed to observe the mice and kill any they thought were going to die by breaking their necks with a ball point pen on the corridor floor. This is an inadequate way of controlling suffering, but in any event, using the company’s own data, the BUAV has discovered that this so-called humane endpoint was a sham because far more of the mice in question died an agonizing death than were killed. The BUAV investigation has shown that during that members of staff often caused spinal injury, breaking backs rather than necks. This resulted in an extended period of what would undoubtedly be excruciating agony for the individuals.
Every batch of botox (no matter the product name or manufacturer)
Although the European Pharmacopoeia lists the LD50 test for every batch of botulinum toxin, there is an alternative test that does not use live animals which is allowed. Called the SNAP-25 assay it instead measures the activity of the toxin in a test tube and can be used to replace the mouse LD50 tests. Botox manufacturers can use this alternative method. In fact, the BUAV believes that under UK law this test should be used. Furthermore, this test has been validated by an official UK government laboratory, the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), and has been used by them since 1999. Inexplicably, the UK Home Office is not insisting on this test even after all these years.
WE URGE YOU AND YOUR CUSTOMERS TO CONTACT THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE BOTOX PRODUCTS YOU USE ASKING THEM TO STOP THE CRUEL TESTING OF BOTOX ON MICE AND INSTEAD SWITCH TO NON-ANIMAL METHODS.
For further information, see our website www.buav.org. You can also read The Sunday Times article about our investigation here.
If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.
Many thanks for your attention
Dr. Katy Taylor, BSc PhD
ICAPPP Secretary (International Council on Animal Protection in Pharmaceutical Programs)
Secretariat of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE)
British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)
16a Crane Grove
London N7 8NN
Direct: +44 (0) 20 7619 6979
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7700 4888
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7700 0252
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Dr. Patrick Treacy is Medical Director of Ailesbury Clinics Ltd. He is Chairman of the Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors and Irish Regional Representative of the BACD. He is a Medical Advisor to the UK's largest cosmetic website Consulting Rooms.