The World’s First Animal-Free Insulin Assay
PCRM has developed a new insulin assay, which sidesteps controversial animal-derived ingredients used in typical assays.
In January, PCRM’s Neal Barnard, M.D., launched an important clinical trial to test the effect of a low-fat, vegan diet on patients with type 2 diabetes. Early on, we discovered the lab test we needed to measure insulin involved animal-derived antibodies. Rather than support animal cruelty (the antibodies are grown in the painfully swollen bodies of mice and rats), we decided to look for a lab that could grow the antibodies in a test tube.
Unfortunately, labs that grow antibodies in test tubes typically use fetal calf serum—a cruel byproduct of slaughterhouses—as a growth promoter. After much searching, we finally found a lab willing to attempt to develop an assay that didn’t depend on fetal calf serum. The project took several months and was not cheap, but we’re delighted to report the cells grew perfectly well, and the antibodies work exactly like those used in traditional tests. The new method will soon be used to analyze insulin levels in our study participants’ blood samples.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, PCRM’s diabetes study is conducted in coordination with investigators from the George Washington University and the University of Toronto.