Animals in Science / Alternatives

to Animals: 2014 Developments

"Faster and more accurate method for testing new cancer drugs"
Dec. 2, 2014

By combining the different cells that make up a lung, Dr. Anant was able to insert cancer cells and see how they grew in a real "in vivo" environment, or one that closely resembles human anatomy. The process could also make it quicker and easier to test standard and experimental drugs on individual cancers as current drug testing methods can be time-consuming, imprecise or controversial.

Read more here...

"Molecular initiating events" at the boundary between chemistry and biology could eliminate animal testing
Nov. 19, 2014

Although still at an early stage, the process involves identifying “molecular initiating events” (MIEs) — the term given to the moment at which a molecule that has entered the body starts to interact with it, kick-starting a sequence of events that leads to a toxic outcome. By identifying the specific features and properties within individual molecules that cause these events, the researchers argue that it should be possible to make accurate predictions about the effects of new and untested chemical compounds with similar characteristics.

Read more here...

"Organovo begins selling 3D printed liver tissue"
Nov. 18, 2014

In case you weren’t sure if we are living in the future, Organovo is here to remind you: The bioprinting company announced today that its 3D printed liver tissue is now commercially available, and pharmaceutical laboratories can begin using it to test if their early-stage drugs are toxic.

Read more here...

The science of cosmetic testing without the use of animals
Nov. 18, 2014

The cosmetics industry has been strongly supporting the development of alternative methods through the co-funding of the SEURAT-1 research programme (2011-2015) together with the Commission and by driving its own research programme in areas of genotoxicity, eye irritation, skin sensitisation, skin bioavailability and systemic toxicity, where we have achieved considerable progress with new methods and regulatory acceptance of alternative approaches.

Read more here...

Computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery
Nov. 18, 2014

Merging expertise from computer science and synthetic drug design, the new model reveals that the drug efficacy of fusion–protein therapies depends on the geometric characteristics of a drug's molecular components. Use of the model could potentially replace the need to physically make and test new biologic drug designs, cutting down timelines and costs associated with drug development.

Read more here...

Nano3D Biosciences Makes Major 3D Bioprinting Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Research
Nov. 3, 2014

Using their NanoShuttle technology, within a machine they call the Bio-Assembler, Nano3D is able to create 3-dimensional breast cancer tissue via the manipulation of cells using magnetic nanoparticles. This technology allows for the rapid printing of cells in a tissue-like structure, meaning that animal testing and 2-dimensional cellular testing can be things of the past.

Read more here...

Scientists use stem cells to grow tiny human stomachs
Oct. 30, 2014

Scientists have managed to grow tiny human stomachs from stem cells, and they’re using them to study gastric diseases such as stomach cancer and ulcers, and hope to one day use them to grow stomach tissues for transplanting.

Read more here...

SimOmics, a University of York spin-out business which aims to make drug design quicker and more efficient, is celebrating its launch and first major contract
Oct. 27, 2014

The business is based on innovative computer modelling software developed with support from C2D2. This software can help drug developers predict the effects of new drugs on autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Read more here...

Supercomputers link proteins to drug side effects
Oct. 21, 2014

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have discovered a high-tech method of using supercomputers to identify proteins that cause medications to have certain adverse drug reactions (ADR) or side effects. They are using high-performance computers (HPC) to process proteins and drug compounds in an algorithm that produces reliable data outside of a laboratory setting for drug discovery.

Read more here...

Breakthrough Replicates Human Brain Cells for Use in Alzheimer’s Research

Oct. 12, 2014

For the first time, and to the astonishment of many of their colleagues, researchers created what they call Alzheimer’s in a Dish — a petri dish with human brain cells that develop the telltale structures of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, they resolved a longstanding problem of how to study Alzheimer’s and search for drugs to treat it.

Read more here...

Baxter Laboratories develops new in-vitro skin testing method
Oct. 9, 2014

Australia-based Baxter Laboratories has developed an in-vitro skin compatibility and safety test which targeted the move away from testing products on animals.

Read more here...

Japanese researchers develop "organs-on-chips" technology for drug testing
Oct. 8, 2014

Researchers successfully replicated how a cancer medication absorbed by the bowel is metabolized in the liver and reaches areas affected by lung cancer. The chip is used to culture human cells on a palm-sized plastic substrate. The researchers created tiny chambers to cultivate bowel, liver and lung cells on the substrate and connected these with channels that simulated blood vessels, using etching technology developed for semiconductors.

Read more here...

Organ-on-a-Chip Simulates Asthmatic Airway
Oct. 7, 2014

Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a new chip that mimics the function of an asthmatic airway and has the potential to speed up the drug-testing process.

Read more here...

The Chinese Episkin model
Oct. 6, 2014

L’Oréal has been granted a Chinese business licence for Shanghai Episkin Biotechnology Ltd. The company will market its reconstructed skin models Episkin which are essential for the validation of alternative methods to animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients.

Read more here...

L'Oréal obtains China license for skin model business
Oct. 1, 2014

L'Oréal has been granted a license by authorities in China for its Episkin Biotechnology business, giving it the right to market its reconstructed skin model in the country.

Read more here...


British team awarded $1.6 million for leishmaniasis research
Sept. 26, 2014

The award, which was given by the CRACK IT Challenges program, will be used by a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of York and the University of Glasgow in a computer-based “virtual laboratory.” The computer model the team will further develop is intended to predict the efficacy of drugs, vaccines and other treatments for leishmaniasis.

Read more here...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma
Sept. 23, 2014

Hope for healthier airways may be on the horizon thanks to a Harvard University team that has developed a human airway muscle-on-a-chip that could be used to test new drugs because it accurately mimics the way smooth muscle contracts in the human airway, under normal circumstances and when exposed to asthma triggers. As reported in the journal Lab on a Chip, it also offers a window into the cellular and even subcellular responses within the tissue during an asthmatic event.

Read more here...

MIMETAS receives $1.6 million pharma funding for kidney-on-a-chip toxicity model
Sept. 11, 2014

The funding is awarded in the context of the NephroTube CRACK IT Challenge to support development of a microfluidic renal model, predicting renal toxicity during pre-clinical development. The model’s early prediction of nephrotoxicity will help to reduce animal experiments.

Read more here...

Cyprotex expands skin sensitisation methods with in vitro KeratinoSens assay
Sept. 11, 2014

Read more here...

Real time in vitro evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of contaminants
Sept. 10, 2014

The Genotrace project aims at bringing major technological innovations to develop a new MN assay, that will allow to monitor both dynamically and in real time the production of chromosome damages and the signal of a genotoxic reporter on HepaRG cells (HepaRG cells are human hepatic cells that can metabolize chemical compounds, this metabolization step is required for many carcinogenic compounds).

Read more here...

Creating brain cells from skin to study Alzheimer’s
Sept. 9, 2014

Dr Selina Wray, 32, beat off stiff competition from three other research teams for three years of funding to develop an innovative new way to screen potential new treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Read more here...

How tech could spell the end of animals in drugs testing
Aug. 23, 2014

We are in a pharmaceutical ice age where fewer drugs are being developed. But new computer modelling and bioengineering techniques could revitalise the industry – and make animal testing obsolete.

Read more here...

Organovo: 3D printed liver tissue to challenge current toxicity models
Aug. 20, 2014

A 3D printed human liver system could offer better informed risk-based decisions earlier in the drug development process than with current in vitro models, according to developers Organovo.

Read more here...

Program develops advanced brain-inspired chip
Aug. 7, 2014

A potential application for the SyNAPSE-developed chip is neuroscience modelling. The large number of electronic neurons and synapses in each chip and the ability to tile multiple chips could lead to the development of complex, networked neuromorphic simulators for testing network models in neurobiology and deepening current understanding of brain function.

Read more here...

Artificial lung the size of a sugar cube
May 26, 2014

What medications can be used to treat lung cancer, and how effective are they? Until now, drug companies have had to rely on animal testing to find out. But in the future, a new 3D model lung is set to achieve more precise results and ultimately minimize – or even completely replace – animal testing.

Read more here...

Watch a video here...

DiscoveRx's Assay IDs Safety Risks Better Than Animal Testing
May 21, 2014

New research reveals that DiscoveRx’s BioMAP Systems can identify significant drug safety aspects more effectively than animal testing. BioMAP Systems is a novel set of primary human cell and co-culture assays that model disease and pathway biology, which enables scientists to glean the safety and efficacy of drugs and chemicals.

In the study, published this week in Nature Biotechnology, BioMAP Systems analyzed 776 environmental chemicals to determine their ability to interfere in critical human biological pathways. These chemicals analyzed include reference pharmaceuticals and failed drugs. Results show that the in vitro approach can determine potential toxicities and off-target drug impacts. It can also zero in on cellular mechanisms and biomarker endpoints behind certain types of adverse reactions in humans.

Read more here...

Bone marrow-on-a-chip unveiled
May 5, 2014

The latest organ-on-a-chip from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering reproduces the structure, functions and cellular make-up of bone marrow, a complex tissue that until now could only be studied intact in living animals. The device, dubbed "bone marrow-on-a-chip," gives scientists a much-needed new tool to test the effects of new drugs and toxic agents on whole bone marrow.

Read more and watch a video here...

First ever stem-cell grown skin samples could replace animal testing for drugs and cosmetics
April 25, 2014

An international team has developed the first lab-grown epidermis – the thin layer of cells that make up the outermost layer of skin, preventing infection from entering the body. The epidermis was created using pluripotent stem cells, cells that are capable of growing in a variety of ways to fit different functions.

Scientists believe the breakthrough will provide a cost-effective, alternative lab model for testing drugs and cosmetics, negating the need for animals, and could also help to develop new therapies for skin disorders.

Read more here...

In Vitro Toxicity Testing to Grow at 15.84% to 2018 Says a New Research Report
April 14, 2014

According to the report, the global in vitro toxicity testing market is driven by several factors, of which an increase in opposition to animal testing is one. Since animals are used as test subjects, toxicity testing is opposed by the majority of animal rights activists. This results in the increased adoption of in vitro toxicity testing and helps in the growth of the market.

Read more here...

'3D' test could reduce reliance on animals for testing asthma and allergy medications
April 2, 2014

In a study published in ACS' journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, scientists report that they've developed a simple, "3D" laboratory method to test asthma and allergy medications that mimics what happens in the body.

Their test includes three types of human cells that are typically in a person's airway. In the body, these cells are close together and are involved in the development of respiratory conditions. The 3D "model" reacted just like a real person's airway when they exposed it to allergens and bacterial extract.

Read more here...

Study: Guinea pigs and mice can be replaced with non-animal skin sensitization method
March 27, 2014

Recent results show that Cyprotex's in vitro skin sensitization assay SenCeeTox can correctly identify chemicals that cause an allergic response in humans and, unlike many other methods, can predict the potency of the response. This non-animal method uses a three-dimensional, human-derived skin model that accurately replicates many of the key traits of normal human skin, allowing it to be used to test finished products such as gels and creams.

Read more here...

Electronic ‘homo minutus’ may replace animal drug testing
March 26, 2014

The Advanced Tissue-engineering Human Ectypal Network Analyser, or simply ATHENA, project uses a combination of human organ constructs and advanced technologies such as mass spectrometry.

Currently, the researchers are developing surrogates of four human organs – liver, heart, lungs and kidneys. With each of those organs about the size of a smartphone screen, the whole ATHENA body of interconnected organs could comfortably fit on a desk.

Read more here...

Liver Stand-In Could Replace Animal Testing
March 18, 2014

Animal testing for human pharmaceutical products often centers on animal livers, but scientists have invented a fake liver that appears to be just as effective for drug testing purposes and requires no killing of critters.

Read more here...

Lab-grown human heart cells could mean fewer animals used in research
March 6, 2014

The National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial is developing methods that would allow large amounts of human heart tissue to be grown in the lab and used for drug testing. Researchers can already grow small amounts of heart muscle from human cells, but in a petri dish, the cells don't develop all of the features of heart cells in the body.

The team has developed new surfaces that encourage cells to grow into regular lines as they do in the heart.

Read more here...

In Vitro Drug Discovery Platform Developed for Alzheimer's Studies
March 5, 2014

Researchers at Harvard say they have converted skin cells from patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s into the types of neurons that are affected by the disease. They note that this makes it possible for the first time to study this leading form of dementia in living human cells and that the door is now opened to the potential development of novel therapies more quickly.

Read more here...

Global Market for in vitro and in silico Safety Testing Projected to Reach $9.9 Billion in 2017
March 3, 2014

Safety and toxicity testing is used by pharmaceutical companies to screen and prioritize new drug candidates, and ultimately enables government regulators to determine whether the benefits of a particular substance outweigh its risks to human health and/or the environment. Over the past 20 years, concerns over animal welfare and other scientific activities have spurred the development of alternative testing methods. Ongoing research, development and scale-up of in vitro and in silico methods include an array of advanced technology platforms that are gaining traction commercially.

Read more here...

Venn acquires Labskin animal-testing substitute
Feb. 27, 2014

Venn Life Sciences, the clinical research organisation (CRO) based in Dublin, Ireland, has acquired for £210,000 the trading assets of dermatology company Evocutis, including the latter’s Labskin skin substitute, an alternative to animal testing for dermatology products including medicines and cosmetics.

Read more here...

EC recommendation published for skin sensitivity test
Feb. 27, 2014

The European Commission has published its recommendation of Givaudan’s assay for skin sensitivity testing which will, in turn, facilitate scientific discussions at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in view of developing test guidelines for skin sensitization.

Read more here...

Clutter cutter: Computer modeling used to understand how messy cells contribute to cancer
Feb. 19, 2014

In a messy house, people use computers to manage paper and photo clutter; companies use computer systems to track their inventory. Researchers are taking a similar approach to cell-molecular inventory control for cancer. They have created computer models, using their programming framework (PySB), which enable them to explore the complex biochemical processes that drive cancer growth.

Read more here...

Available Animal-Free Testing Methods and How They Succeed
Feb. 10, 2014

It’s clear that the road to animal-less alternatives is long and filled with bureaucracy, so it’s good to take the time and celebrate some alternatives that have made it through and paved the way for more to join them!

Read more here...


Take a look behind the scenes at NOTOX, part of the European research initiative SEURAT (safety evaluation ultimately replacing animal testing) moving “towards the replacement of current repeated dose systemic toxicity testing in human safety assessment.”

Watch video here...


Take a look behind the scenes at organ-on-a-chip research and development.

Watch a video here and TED Talk here...

New microchip demonstrates how metastasis takes place
Feb. 6, 2014

Nearly 70 percent of patients with advanced breast cancer experience skeletal metastasis, in which cancer cells migrate from a primary tumor into bone - a painful development that can cause fractures and spinal compression. While scientists are attempting to better understand metastasis in general, not much is known about how and why certain cancers spread to specific organs, such as bone, liver, and lungs. Now researchers have developed a three-dimensional microfluidic platform that mimics the spread of breast cancer cells into a bonelike environment.

Read more here...

In vitro innovation: Testing nanomedicine with blood cells on a microchip
Feb. 4, 2014

Designing nanomedicine to combat diseases is a hot area of scientific research, primarily for treating cancer, but very little is known in the context of atherosclerotic disease. Scientists have engineered a microchip coated with blood vessel cells to learn more about the conditions under which nanoparticles accumulate in the plaque-filled arteries of patients with atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction and stroke.

Read more here...

Simple amoeba can help fight Alzheimer's
Jan. 26, 2014

Scientists have discovered a way to study the causes of Alzheimer's disease by using a simple single-celled amoeba which leads to a better understanding of how human proteins mutate. The new method circumvents the need for animal testing.

Read more here...

Empiriko announces availability of Biomimiks technology
Jan. 22, 2014

Empiriko, a clinical intelligence company, has announced the availability of its Biomimiks technology, a biomimetic platform that mimics the in vivo metabolism mediated by liver enzymes (cytochrome P450) to enable pharmaceutical researchers to conduct rapid and iterative in vitro and ex vivo drug metabolism studies to predict the metabolic patterns, pathways and profiles of drugs.

A dramatic step forward for the drug discovery industry, Empiriko's chemistry-based solutions address the full drug development lifecycle, from lead generation to patient treatment.

Read more here...

Online Veterinary Museum Teaches Anatomy without Animals

Veterinary students are increasingly looking for online resources to supplement their traditional courses. There is now a plethora of content to match this demand but students struggle to locate this material, gauge its relevance to their studies and ensure it is of good quality. Veterinary anatomy is one area where a Google search will locate thousands of possible links, of which the majority are of dubious value.

For these reasons, the Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum (OVAM) was established to promote free sharing of peer reviewed content. OVAM is a collection of anatomy resources organised into categories according to the species, system and region covered.

Read more here...

P&G develops first approved non-animal alternative for skin allergy testing
Jan. 17, 2014

Procter & Gamble scientists announce a milestone having developed the first non-animal alternative method for skin allergy testing approved by European authority.

Read more here...

Companies awarded funding to improve methods to detect potential drug toxicity in humans and reduce the reliance on animal use
Jan. 14, 2014

Encouragingly, at FibromEd, our recent data shows that stem-cell derived hepatocytes (Figure 1) perform on par with current gold standard assays (Medine et al 2013; Szkolnicka et al 2014). They may well serve as a partial or full replacement for primary cells from a number of species in safety screening in the future. Furthermore, by providing a potentially more physiologically relevant prescreen, only the best candidate drugs will enter regulatory in vivo studies, further reducing the number of animals used in the development of the drug.

In the short term, utilising our new approach has the potential to reduce animal use by removing the need for primary animal liver cell cultures and by screening out compounds earlier on that would otherwise fail in later animal studies due to unforeseen liver toxicity. In the long term, and with further validation, our approach has the potential in some instances to completely replace animal use in studies to determine liver toxicity.

Read more here...

New mascara test may reduce need for animal testing
Jan. 3, 2014

An end to mascara testing on animals could be in sight, thanks to tiny organisms nicknamed 'slipper' and 'eyelash'.

Mascara is a mild irritant, and rabbits have, historically, been used to test how much discomfort new products can cause. However, a cheaper and more reliable test is now being developed by scientists at the University of Liverpool, UK, involving miniscule protozoa.

Read more here...

Click here for 2013's developments in alternatives.