21 December 2012

Cages instead of rats

Science is becoming less dependent on laboratory animals

ABC Magazine based on New Scientist: How human biology can prevent drug deathsEvery year thousands of people in the world die due to the side effects of drugs that have previously been tested only on animals.

Only in the European Union, 197 thousand such deaths are registered per year and about 100 thousand more in the USA. Geneticist Kathy Archibald and pharmacologist Robert Coleman from Safer Medicines are convinced that the number of these deaths can be significantly reduced if the biology of the human body, not the animal body, is taken into account in research.

In October of this year, the final report of the European project EU-ADR Project was published, which proposed ways to reduce mortality from side effects of drugs.

In particular, it was proposed to introduce a program into the electronic medical history system that would track and analyze the appearance of early signs of side effects in a patient, depending on which medicine he takes. According to the authors of the report, this would help to notice the first alarming signals about the increased risk of cardiovascular complications in patients taking the anti-arthritis drug Vioxx, 3 years before it was discontinued. This would help save tens of thousands of lives. Nevertheless, the most effective way is called the detection of side effects long before the drug gets to patients – at the stage of clinical trials.

Currently, 92 percent of new drugs fail during human clinical trials, even if they manage to successfully pass animal trials before that. In most cases, this is due to the toxicity of the drug to the human body. Therefore, Safer Medicines employees urge researchers to focus more on human biology, rather than animals, in an attempt to predict the reaction to a new drug. To do this, it is necessary to use embryonic stem cells programmed in such a way that the necessary tissue with lesions characteristic of a particular disease grows out of them. It is also possible to create artificial vessels or organs, computer models, virtual patients, as well as apply the technique of microdosed tests.

Experts emphasize that most of these techniques and technologies are already commercially available for research laboratories around the world, but are still not popular with scientists. Many of them are so used to conducting research on animals that they do not want to switch to other methods. However, thanks to the efforts of animal advocates, the number of the latter in laboratories is gradually decreasing, and sooner or later researchers will still have to abandon animal models.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru21.12.2012

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