Animal and non-animal experiments in nanotechnology – The results of a critical literature survey

Main Article Content

Ursula G. Sauer
[show affiliations]


A literature survey funded by the Foundation Animalfree Research was performed to obtain an overview on animal experiments in nanotechnology. Scientific articles from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland published between 2004 and 2007 were collected. A total of 164 articles was retrieved covering in vivo nanotechnological research. The majority of animal experiments were conducted in “nanomedicine”, i.e. nanotechnology in the health care area, to study targeted drug, vaccine or gene delivery. Further areas of research relate to nanotechnology-based imaging technologies, the toxicity of nanomaterials, tissue engineering for regenerative treatments, and magnetic tumour thermotherapy. Many experiments were classified as moderately and even severely distressful to the animals. Due to the significance of the scientific topics pursued, the possible scientific benefit of the research depicted in the articles is also assigned to be moderate to high. Nevertheless, it has to be asked whether such animal experiments are truly the only means to answer the scientific questions addressed in nanotechnology. An overview on non-animal test methods used in nanotechnological research revealed a broad spectrum of methodologies applied in a broad spectrum of scientific areas, including those for which animal experiments are being performed. Explicit incentives to avoid animal experiments in nanotechnology currently can only be found in the area of nanotoxicology, but not in the area of nanomedicine. From the point of view of animal welfare, not least because of the new technologies that arise due to nanotechnology, it is time for a paradigm change both in fundamental and applied biomedical research to found research strategies on non-animal test methods.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sauer, U. G. (2009) “Animal and non-animal experiments in nanotechnology – The results of a critical literature survey”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 26(2), pp. 109–134. doi: 10.14573/altex.2009.2.109.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>