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Moths could cut need to test on mammals

Press Association logoPress Association 23/01/2017

The number of mammals used in animal testing could be cut dramatically thanks to moth larvae, scientists say.

Larvae from the wax moth Galleria mellonella can be used for tests that would usually be conducted on mammals, such as mice.

Last year, two scientists from the University of Exeter founded BioSystems Technology, which provides moth larvae to researchers.

Co-founders Dr Olivia Champion and Professor Richard Titball have now been given a grant to assess the larvae, said to be cheap and effective.

"Scientists using our model have been able to reduce their use of mammals by up to 80 per cent," Dr Champion said.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and contract research organisation Envigo to assess whether the larvae can reduce the number of mammals used for testing the toxicity of chemicals.

Any new chemical must be tested for toxicity and the standard approach is to use mammals such as mice, rats or rabbits.

Biosystems Technology's larvae, sold under the brand name TruLarv, offer a low-cost alternative that allows tests to be done faster and with fewer ethical concerns.

"If the study with Envigo is positive, Envigo will start offering that form of testing to their clients in industry," Dr Champion said.

"We don't have the full results yet, but what we've seen so far looks very promising."

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