I am very optimistic about this new method of testing drugs. It’s called organs-on-a-chip.
The video below explains what it is.
Essentially, it means that drugs can be tested in an entirely artificial environment. This should, and I hope, must translate into less animal testing.
I have to say that I’m excited about this because anything which can reduce or limit animal testing must be great news for the millions of animal advocates on this planet who fight for animal rights and for the reduction of animal testing. I would put myself in that group. Of course it is also great news for the animals. Animal testing remains very widespread and the numbers of animals used remains high. It is time for change.
My interpretation of organs-on-a-chip is that the scientists create a miniature human body organ within a chip, which they can view working and therefore they can test the organ’s function with the application of drugs. They can view in minute detail and at a cell level what is going on and how the drug interacts with the artificial cells of a human body.
This will allow scientists to analyse with great precision the efficacy or otherwise of new drugs. So for example (as I understand it) if a person suffers from a certain illness they can recreate that illness using this technology.
They can then treat the illness outside of the person’s body and without using animals in order to find a personal cure for that person.
The only downside that I can envisage is the cost. Medical care is very expensive and the amount of funding available is not limitless. In the UK there is the NHS paid for by taxpayers money. The money is very much finite and there is constant pressure on keeping costs down.
In America there is medical insurance but once again that to must have a finite limit as to available funds as premiums must be affordable.
However, I am told the cost of testing drugs using these devices should be less than for animal testing. Finally animal testing is inefficient because scientists realise that animal testing is not predictive of how the drugs work on humans. This leads to a high failure rate for drugs tested on animals.