Before life-saving pharmaceuticals can reach the market, these drugs require rigorous safety testing to ensure they pose no risk to humans. These tests, however, are typically conducted on animals, such as mice and rats, harming the creatures in the process, while also often failing to present accurate results because rodents have such a different genetic makeup compared to humans.
That may soon change though thanks to a promising new study from researchers in Israel who have developed an ethical and much more precise approach to testing medicine.
“Drug development is a long and expensive endeavor that is defined by multiple failures. The main reason for this failure is that clinical experiments are ultimately based on minimal information gained from animal experiments which often fail to replicate the human response,” said Professor Yaakov Nahmias, the study’s lead researcher.
Researchers from Hebrew University tapped into existing technology to develop a new testing method in which a chip with human tissue on it is used to replicate a drug’s effect on humans. Featuring microscopic sensors, the tissue enabled the team to precisely monitor the body’s response to targeted drug treatments.
Using the technology, the researchers then proceeded to prove that the commonly used cancer drug, cisplatin, causes a dangerous buildup of fat in human kidneys. “This groundbreaking technology has the potential to significantly reduce the testing and production time for drugs, while also avoiding the need to test animals in the lab. This will save time, money, and certainly unnecessary suffering,” said Nahmias.
The research team, whose study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is now working towards developing new cancer drugs that bypass the need for animal testing.