The Centre is expected to be completed by 2016, at which point it will join similar centres in Brazil, Europe, Japan and the United States in playing a central role in driving momentum in non-animal research.
With 166 billion Korean Won (US$145 million) allocated to the project, the centre will focus on developing new microbial, cell, tissue and in silico approaches that can replace, reduce or refine the use of animals.
Globally regulations for cosmetics and chemical safety assessments contain time and accuracy demands beyond what traditional animal tests can meet.
For example, Korea's EU REACH-style chemicals regulation will require all new chemicals to undergo testing.
Thanks to the European ban that came into play earlier in the year, the incentive for change is there with lobby groups stating it is essential.
Korea Animal Rights Advocates’ (KARA) Borami Seo says: “A Korean non-animal alternatives centre is a significant step in the right direction that will bring exciting scientific, economic and consumer protection benefits.”
“By enabling companies and scientists to have greater access to these methods, not only will the quality of Korean research be improved but Korea's scientists will also be able to play their part in the exciting and lucrative global endeavour to create the human-relevant science tools of the future.”
Humane Society International, which works with governments and scientists in Korea and globally to replace animals in research, also identifies increasing Korea's alternatives development capabilities as one of its key strategic objectives.
The group’s director of research and toxicology Troy Seidle, adds: “Increasing Korea's investment in modern, human-relevant research and testing infrastructures will accelerate the replacement of animals in cosmetics and chemicals safety testing, as well as biomedical research.”
“Korea's new K-REACH chemicals regulation and Europe's sales ban on newly animal-tested cosmetics mean that replacing time-consuming, costly and often unreliable animal tests with more advanced technologies is more important than ever.”