One need only read the labels on skin-care products--"not animal tested" and "cruelty free"--to realize that the animal rights movement has hit consumers in the heart, and manufacturers are responding to their concerns. While the rights and wrongs of animal research are still being fiercely debated, few scientists would deny the importance of finding substitutes for animals wherever possible. Not only is it desirable to minimize suffering of animals, but also massive amounts of paperwork and the costs of housing animals can be reduced if alternative technologies are found.

A number of alternatives are already on the market, and still more are being developed. These include such products as artificial skin to measure irritancy and toxicity of various substances; a silicon microphysiometer, which measures individual cells' responses to physical and chemical stimuli; and even cultured organ systems, being developed to examine systemic reactions to substances.

Two widely used tests illustrate...

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