Animal testing alternative has ticks trembling at the knees

The thousands of test animals currently required to evaluate new pesticides could be replaced by tricking ticks into setting up home on a faux cow hide, reports Jennifer Rohn for Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

The hide, recently developed by scientists in Switzerland, consists of a skin-like silicone membrane, complete with hair that rests over a layer of cow blood. The insects are so comfortable with the faux-cow that they set up home, copulated and laid eggs.

But it is knee trembling of a different kind that researchers measure to evaluate the early signs of pesticide toxicity. Researchers use the leg tremblings of the tick (Ioxedes ricinus) to observe the early stages of central nervous system damage, something that is not possible using live animals. Thomas Kröber and Patrick Guerin at the University of Neuchâtel confirmed the effectiveness of the system by coating the membrane with the chemical firponil, and then measuring central nerve system damage (leg trembling) and measuring tick mortality (Pest Management Science DOI:10.1002/ps.1293).

Vicky Robinson, chief executive of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, said: This research takes a simple idea and applies it to great effect, resulting in a potentially significant impact on animal use. Most importantly, it demonstrates that finding ways to reduce the use of animals in research and testing is as much about improving the science as it is about considering the welfare of animals.'

More than 10,000 animals are used every year to test new tick-fighting chemicals, a figure that is likely to increase with the introduction of REACH, the EU new chemicals legislation, next year. Pesticides targeting ticks are constantly being updated and tested, because pests develop resistance so quickly. Ticks transmit several serious diseases to both animals and humans, including Lyme disease.

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Chemistry & Industry
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About Chemistry & Industry
Chemistry & Industry magazine from SCI delivers news and comment from the interface between science and business. As well as covering industry and science, it focuses on developments that will be of significant commercial interest in five- to ten-years time. Published twice-monthly and free to SCI Members, it also carries authoritative features and reviews. Opinion-formers worldwide respect Chemistry & Industry for its independent insight.

About Pest Management Science
Pest Management Science (PMSci) is an international, peer-reviewed journal of research and technology on crop protection and pest control. Since its launch in 1970, the journal has become the premier forum for papers covering all aspects of research and development, application, use and impact on the environment of products designed for pest control and crop protection.

PMSci is an SCI journal, published by John Wiley & Sons, on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry, and is available in print (ISSN: 1526-498X) Online (ISSN: 1526-4998) via Wiley InterScience http://www.interscience.wiley.com For further information about the journal go to http://www.interscience.wiley.com/pestmanagementscience

About SCI
SCI is a unique international forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. Anyone can join, and the Society offers a chance to share information between sectors as diverse as food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science and safety. As well as publishing new research and running events, SCI has a growing database of member specialists who can give background information on a wide range of scientific issues. Originally established in 1881, SCI is a registered charity with members in over 70 countries.

University of Neuchatel - www2.unine.ch
3R Foundation that financed the work - www.forschung3r.ch

About Wiley
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., based in Chichester, England, is the largest subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., provides must-have content and services to customers worldwide. Their core businesses include scientific, technical, and medical journals, encyclopedias, books, and online products and services; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley has publishing, marketing, and distribution centres in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb. Wiley's recently re-launched Internet site can be accessed at http://www.wileyeurope.com


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