Alternatives to Animals: 2015 Developments

"Creating 3D-printed rats for lab dissection"
June 16, 2015

The startup is dedicated to creating 3D-designed and printed, accurate anatomical models for scientific and education purposes.

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"Researching 3-D bioprinting for tissues"
June 8, 2015

Work being done by Michigan Technological University researchers could lead the way to generating synthetic nerve tissue, providing possible solutions to now-irreversible problems such as spinal-cord injuries.

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"The Environmental Protection Agency has updated a policy which will result in fewer products required to be tested in the eyes of rabbits"
June 5, 2015

The policy is the outcome of a multi-year project between industry, the EPA and the non-profit testing laboratory, the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS). Coordinated by The Accord Group, the project successfully identified three non-animal tests which can be used in place of the rabbit test to determine the eye irritation potential of commonly used household cleaning products.

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"3D-printing human skin: The end of animal testing?"
May 19, 2015

Earlier this month, French beauty conglomerate L’Oreal announced a partnership with bioprinting company Organovo, setting the stage for using 3D-printed human skin to evaluate cosmetics. The collaboration could pave the way both for bioprinting on a commercial scale, and for animal-free testing across a number of industries.

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"Wyss Institute’s Human Organs-on-Chips Honored as Best Product Design by London’s Design Museum"
May 15, 2015

The Wyss Institute’s human organs-on-chips, represented by the human lung, gut and liver chips, have won the 2015 Designs of the Year Awards prize in the best Product design category. The annual awards and museum exhibition by the Design Museum in London recognizes the most innovative, high-impact, and forward-thinking designs from across the world.

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"The study of mini “brains” in a dish, derived from patient cells, offers a novel approach for autism spectrum disorder research"
May 14, 2015

The recent advent of human stem cell models, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), has offered promising tools to shed light on key cellular and molecular milestones associated with ASDs, revealing new therapeutic opportunities to treat the disorders. These iPSCs can be coaxed into neurons and further developed into in vitro models. Lab-developed mini “brains” can be studied in search of revelations about specific biochemical or cellular features that likely occur within developing brains of people with ASD. These models can be exposed to possible damaging environmental factors and potential treatments.

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"L'Oreal partnering with Organovo to develop 3D printed human skin tissue for cosmetics testing"
May 7, 2015

Beauty conglomerate L'Oreal has announced a research partnership with US-based bioprinting firm Organovo to develop 3D printed human skin tissue that can be used for product testing and advanced research.

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"New Eye Irritation Test Replacing Rabbits with Artificial Corneas Developed"
May 1, 2015

A new method for testing possible eye irritation due to cosmetics ingredients that does not involve animal testing has been developed by the National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation (NIFDS) ... The NIFDS is preparing for the new test to be recognized by the OECD. The new test method involves artificial cornea tissue, similar to that of a human, which is cultivated with left over tissue from cornea transplants, and can be tested on an unlimited number of times.

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"3D Printing Makes Strides Toward Alternative To Animal Testing"
May 1, 2015

Researchers ... have developed what is likely the next step in full organ generation – small, organ-like objects that mimic heart and lung functions ... The team created the objects by “reprogramming” human skin cells into heart cells and then clumping them together in a cell structure. The 3D printer was used to create the desired shape and size. The goal is to eventually group them into an entire organ system for testing new treatments and examining the effects of viruses and chemicals (an alternative to expensive and unreliable animal testing).

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"Drug Testing, Now Without the Chimp"
April 29, 2015

To test a potential cure for hepatitis B, Benitec Biopharma Ltd. could have infected as many as 50 chimpanzees with the liver disease, then given them the drug and watched what happened. Instead, the Australian company turned to a U.K. startup for “livers on a chip” contaminated with the virus. CN Bio Innovations, spun out of the University of Oxford, will pump Benitec’s medicine into its LiverChip, a complex piece of engineering not much bigger than a smartphone loaded with 600,000 human cells and designed to behave like a real organ. 

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"Merck inks multi-year collaboration deal with Organovo to use 3D printed liver system for drug testing"
April 25, 2015

Major pharmaceuticals manufacturer Merk & Co ... have just made a deal with 3D printing researcher Organovo to use their 3D printed liver system for drug testing. This interesting application of 3D printing technology will initially be a supplement to in vitro and animal testing, but might even replace them on the long term.

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"Artificial Blood Vessel Assesses Impact of Brain Blood Clot Removal Devices"
April 20, 2015

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have created an in vitro, live-cell artificial vessel that can be used to study both the application and effects of devices used to extract blood clots in the brain. The artificial vessel could have significant implications for future development of endovascular technologies, including reducing the need for animal models to test new devices or approaches.

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"See Lab-Made Heart Cells Beat on Their Own"
April 14, 2015

Science fiction became reality after researchers from Wake Forrest University say they managed to turn stem cells into heart cells that were able to beat on their own.

The accomplishment was part of the "Body on a Chip" project – a $24 million initiative in which researchers at multiple universities, led by a team at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, are tasked with building "miniaturized" versions of organ systems. The goal is to create systems that mimic the human body so that treatments and medicines can be tested before they're given to people.

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"A New Tool for Understanding ALS: Patients’ Brain Cells"
April 13, 2015

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have transformed skin cells from patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), into brain cells affected by the progressive, fatal disease and deposited those human-made cells into the first public ALS cell library, enabling scientists to better study the disease.

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"Manipulating cell signaling pathways to generate 3D Mini Lungs in the lab"
April 10, 2015

One of the long-standing goals of stem cell research has been to generate fully functional human organs in the lab. This would provide varied advantages to researchers, such as providing more accurate simulations of the human body’s physiological conditions and serving as a replacement for animal testing.

A recent breakthrough has been made in this area, with researchers from the University of Michigan claiming to have developed the first set of 3D lungs in the laboratory.

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"Developing a 3D organotypical model to assess skin and gum penetrating implant soft tissue outcomes and implant device development"
March 2015

Animal test methods are commonly used to test dental implants systems and to meet the legal requirements of the European Medicines Agency before they can be used in humans. The current project’s objectives are to replace animal use by developing a 3D model of human gums that does not involve the use of any animal products. 

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"Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh to lead new center to identify toxic chemicals"
March 25, 2015

Although the U.S. now produces more than 500 million tons of synthetic chemicals annually, a major “toxicological information gap” has developed regarding the risks they pose to human health and the environment. According to a number of government reports, less than 10 percent of the 80,000-odd chemicals in general commerce have been tested adequately to determine their health risks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the establishment of three new centers to develop alternative approaches for toxicity testing that could help fill the troubling gap. One is the Vanderbilt-Pittsburgh Resource for Predictive Toxicology (VPROMPT), which will receive $6 million for four years to develop toxicity test procedures based on three-dimensional human cell cultures, rather than the combination of standard two-dimensional cell cultures and whole animal testing that has been de rigeur until now.

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"Autistic and non-autistic brain differences isolated for first time"
March 20, 2015

The functional differences between autistic and non-autistic brains have been isolated for the first time, following the development of a new methodology for analysing MRI scans.

Developed by researchers at the University of Warwick, the methodology, called Brain-Wide Association Analysis (BWAS), is the first capable of creating panoramic views of the whole brain and provides scientists with an accurate 3D model to study. 

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"Improving computer modelling of cardiac properties by ditching the one-size-fits-all approach"
March 10, 2015

A new approach to computer modelling has been recognised for its potential to reduce the number of animals used in research, particularly in the safety assessment of new drugs.

The process uses existing data to build a computer model of cardiac electrophysiology that incorporates variations in 'normal' heart properties that occur between individuals of the same species. Traditional modelling tends to ignore this, using averaged data instead. This new approach has the potential to make computer models that can more accurately identify drug compounds that could be toxic to the heart.

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"Human heart on a chip could replace animal drug testing"
March 9, 2015

A new device could help make drug testing safer, faster, cheaper – and eliminate the need for animal testing. It's just an inch long, but inside its silicone body is housed a small piece of cardiac muscle that responds to cardiovascular medications in exactly the same way heart muscle does inside a living human body.

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"Research could be life-prolonging for cystic fibrosis patients"
March 6, 2015

Dr Lindsay Marshall, who is leading the study, will use a replica model of a human airway with CF to treat early childhood infections with a range of antibiotics to calculate the extent to which P. aeruginosa can be stopped. The model, made entirely of human cells, was developed at Aston University and can accurately duplicate the workings of a human airway and the progression of the disease.

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"Reducing animal testing for skin allergies"
March 2, 2015

The JRC has validated and recommended a new method which is not based on animal testing, to identify chemicals that can trigger skin allergies, estimated to affect already 20% of the population in Europe. The human Cell Line Activation Test (h-CLAT) has been developed by industry and validated by the JRC managed European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM). 

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"Artificial mini-organism: An alternative to animal testing"
Feb. 2, 2015

Researchers at the Dresden-based institute, working jointly with the Institute for Biotechnology at the Technical University (TU) of Berlin, engineered a new kind of solution that could render the use of animal-based experiments superfluous in medical research: a multi-organ chip that faithfully replicates complex metabolic processes in the human body with startling accuracy.

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"Improving access to human material for diabetes research: developing research tissue bank for diabetic and non-diabetic skin"
January, 2015

Using human tissue has many advantages over using tissue from animals – it gives a much better idea of how drugs that are used in the laboratory could be developed into medicines in the future. In addition, the use of human tissue and cells replaces the need for animal experimentation, and reduces the use of animal products in research.

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Click here for 2014's developments in alternatives.