PCRM’s Cruelty-Free Insulin Assay
A scientific publication about PCRM’s development of the world’s first animal-serum-free insulin assay will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. The article concludes that this new assay is as precise and reliable as the established methods for testing human insulin.
Laboratories traditionally detect human insulin using antibodies produced by cells that had been placed into the abdomens of living mice. The procedure is so cruel that it is banned in some European countries. Even when the antibodies are produced from cells in test tubes, fetal bovine serum is commonly used to grow live cells. The serum is obtained from bovine fetuses by puncturing their hearts with a needle without the use of anesthesia. In January 2004, PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., and other PCRM researchers set out to do what many people said could never be done: create a cruelty-free human-insulin-testing method by growing antibody-producing cells in a test tube and using an animal-serum-free medium.
The new test method turned out to be just as accurate—perhaps even slightly more so—as the existing ones. Millipore of St. Charles, Mo., now offers the cruelty-free test kit as its preferred kit for insulin assays. Millipore has already sold enough kits using the new method to test at least 10,000 human samples.