Image: Dr. Charu Chandrasekera
Hello all, we would like help ring in this new year with some words from Dr. Charu Chandrasekera sent to us by our friends and fellow advocates at the vegan shop TerraLuv & Nice Shoes. TerraLuv & Nice Shoes is owned by Gary Charbonneau who created the highly informative documentary called The Medical Illusion. The film, which challenges the use of animals in medical research, can be seen by clicking here. It features a number of experts including Dr. Chandrasekera, a Canadian champion of modern alternatives to animal use in research. Dr. Chandrasekera’s words appeared originally here on the TerraLuv & Nice Shoes site. We are so appreciative of their permission along with Dr. Chandrasekera’s to repost and for all of Gary’s good work on behalf of animals. We encourage you to check them out!
Hello TerraLuv Family:
I am the founder and executive director of Canada’s first and only centre dedicated exclusively to animal-free science. At the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) located at the University of Windsor, our vision is to promote the replacement of animals in Canadian biomedical research, education, and regulatory testing through 21st century science, innovation, and ethics. As the national hub and the International interface, our mission is to serve as the Canadian nexus to advance animal-free science through national and international multi-sectoral partnerships (academic, industry, government and non-profit). We carry out our mission through 4 key pillars that we call RARE: Research, Academic, Regulatory, and Ethics/Welfare.
With the Research Pillar, we have a comprehensive research program to develop, validate, and promote new approach/non-animal methods (NAMs) to understand the molecular/cellular underpinnings of human disease and drug/chemical toxicity testing. We have many research projects utilizing diverse animal-free methods—from 3D-bioprinted human tissue (see photo) to computational modelling—to elucidate human biological complexity in health and disease. With the Academic Pillar, we are developing comprehensive training programs to build a solid knowledge base to train the next generation to think outside the cage! We currently offer Canada’s first graduate course in NAMs, The Human Subject: Animal-Free Methods in Biomedical Research and Toxicology. With the Regulatory Pillar, we collaborate with national (Health Canada and Environment & Climate Change Canada) and international regulators and alternatives centres in other countries to promote the regulatory acceptance of NAMs to modernize chemical risk assessment.
You can take a virtual tour of our lab here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIFwWp0sWKI.
This is a historic year for Canada, with two landmark legislative mandates that passed in June 2023 to ban cosmetic testing on animals (via amendments to the Food and Drugs Act) and to replace/reduce animals in chemical toxicity testing (via amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act)—the latter directly influenced by the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods.
With colossal failures in drug development (95% failure rate) and chemical safety testing (350,000 chemicals and mixtures globally with limited toxicology data), there is an urgent need to adopt NAMs and higher standards of ethics in our scientific culture. Canada has been lagging behind many countries, but with this new legislation, there is renewed hope for Canada to significantly alter our animal testing landscape. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to phase out animal testing in Canada. Let us collectively unite to support this arduous endeavour, fostering a better Canada for humans, animals, and our environment.
Dr. Charu Chandrasekera
Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods