Biotechnology is changing the face of drug development and reducing testing on animal models, which can be cheaper and quicker to get new disease treatments into the clinic and eventually to patients
FREMONT, CA: Drug developers need evidence when studying and measuring the effectiveness and safety of new treatments, and this is done by testing on animals. However, people have been trying to eliminate this process for economic, regulatory hand ethical reasons.
The advances in biotechnology have enabled developers to imitate human organs and physiology. If these prove to be better than animal testing at understanding and predicting the effects of drugs on the human body, it could soon replace the tests carried out on animals in drug development.
Organ-on-a-chip technology grows cells inside of tiny chips that replicate the structure and behavior of human organs. Researchers can easily test drugs quicker and cheap rather than testing on animals. This technology is used to model organs like kidney, intestines, liver, brain, and heart by connecting the chip to each other to see how drugs affect different organs as it travels through the bloodstream.
3D printing has the ability to develop complex machine parts from a digital file, changing the tech world. This technology has started using bioinks that carry cells to develop living tissues.
Although this technology is relatively at an early stage, tissue bioprinting replicates the 3D structure of a human tissue instead of just using human cell cultures. It provides more information on how effective a drug is and can also provide personalized medicines.
Cell structures are tried and tested for screening drugs; however, how human cells behave in a dish is not usually how they behave in the body. An option for this could be organoids, which are 3D miniature organs grown using stem cells, and with the right mix of nutrients and treatments, it can become the organ of choice.
Like bioprinting, organoids are still in the early stages, but this advancement will have significant advantages in vitro testing of early drug development and personalized medicine.
These technologies are all in their early stages but have significant capacity to make in vitro research predict better on the effect of drugs in humans. But since they are still restricted from concluding the behavior of drugs, animals may still likely be used to verify the drug results before testing on humans.