The Physicians Committee

Breaking Research News - animal testing

New Method Preserves Human Brain Tissue Longer for Research

Researchers recently developed a new method to prolong the preservation of brain tissue donated for research from 12 hours to 48 hours. They applied the method to create a human-based experimental model to study the electrical activity of brain cells from epilepsy patients.  

Human-Focused Research Framework to Advance Type 2 Diabetes Research

Using animal models for researching type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) impedes scientific breakthroughs about the disease origins and treatment options.

Computational Method for Cancer Drug Development

Researchers used a mathematical method to convert genome-wide data on gene expression and epigenetic modifications (i.e., DNA modifications that regulate gene expression) from a human cancer stem cell line to a readily analyzable format and applied it to identify critical genes relating to cancer development and drug resistance. 

3-D-Printing Tumors for Medical Research

A Swedish biotechnology company called Cellink is branching into the field of 3-D-bioprinting of human tumors for biomedical research by collaborating with French biotechnology company CTI Biotech.

NIH Announces Plan to Replace Animal Use in Toxicity Testing

The National Institutes of Health announced on Jan. 30 a plan to guide progress toward replacing animal use in toxicity testing of drugs and chemicals.

Robotic Small Intestine to Advance Research and Medical Training

Using a new stretchable, rubber-like material lined with sensors and electronic circuits, engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder are working on creating a robotic small intestine capable of mimicking the automatic peristaltic or wave-like muscle movements inside. 

Human-Relevant Plant Model for Testing Anesthetic Drugs

Researchers recently demonstrated that various plants exhibiting touch-induced movements (e.g., mimosa leaves, pea tendrils, Venus flytraps, and sundew traps) may serve as experimental models for testing anesthetic drugs for humans.

New Chemical Imaging Method Can Map Chemical Penetration in Human Skin

Researchers recently developed a chemical imaging technique using a microscopic mass detection instrument that allows for human skin sections to be analyzed to detect and map the chemical distribution throughout different layers of the skin.

Chemical Screening Test Will Speed Up Toxicity Testing

Researchers modified target proteins to emit light when activated by certain chemicals.

New Report Supports Replacing Animal Tests for Assessing Skin Absorption of Pesticides

A workshop report published this week outlines North American pesticide regulatory needs for dermal absorption studies using in vitro human skin and offers guidelines for study protocols and reports to increase the likelihood of regulatory acceptance of data from such studies.

Framework to Identify Asthma-Causing Chemicals Could Reduce Animal Tests

An Adverse Outcome Pathway, just developed for respiratory sensitization, forms a foundation for the development of human-based, nonanimal approaches to test chemicals for this serious occupational disease. The AOP was developed by a team led by Physicians Committee toxicologist Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H.

OpenFoodTox Database Reduces Toxicity Testing on Animals

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) thinks “sharing is caring” and has created the OpenFoodTox database from information they once used for chemical assessment to encourage the development of new approaches that do not use animals.

Medical Testing on Animals ‘Morally Wrong’ Say 44% of Americans

Medical testing on animals is “morally wrong,” say 44 percent of Americans in Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll.

Strategy to Determine Head Injuries Requiring Surgery in Children

Researchers tested three clinical decision rules for determining head injuries requiring surgical management in a trial involving 20,000 children and found that only the one from The Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network can accurately predict injuries requiring neurosurgery in the absence of CT scans without missing a single child that at needed surgical treatment (i.e., no false negatives). 

Human-Based Lung Model to Advance Precision Medicine

3-D spherical models of human lungs were created from cells derived from lung biopsies of patients with or without idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal lung disease with no cure.

Human Brain Study Reveals Facial Recognition Development

Researchers recently used donated brain tissue and neuroimaging to measure brain activity and changes in brain structures in 22 live children and 25 live adults to show that the region of the brain responsible for facial recognition called the fusiform gyrus actually grows in mass rather than getting trimmed as facial recognition develops with age.

USDA Inspector General Says Greater Oversight Needed of Notorious Animal Research Facility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General has stated that the agency must increase oversight of its now infamous animal research facility. The USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., came under fire in January 2015 when a New York Times exposé revealed systemic animal welfare problems at the facility, whose mission is to “increase efficiency of livestock production.” The article revealed widespread illness, pain, and premature death by animals at the hands of facility employees.

Computational Model to Predict Drug Liver Toxicity

Researchers recently developed a new computational model of the human liver as a new tool to predict drug metabolism and toxicity.

Eliminating Animal Testing Requires “All Hands on Deck”

The exciting progress in replacing animals and shifting the safety-testing paradigm toward more human-relevant approaches is outlined in a new paper by the Physicians Committee’s Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals.

Heart-on-a-Chip Detects ‘Heart Beats’

Researchers at Harvard recently developed an advanced, 3-D-printed device to mimic the human heart.

Cleaning Product Companies Use Innovative Methods to Reduce Animal Testing 

Researchers at the American Cleaning Institute, a trade association which represents cleaning product companies such as Clorox, Ecolab, and Unilever, saved more than 100,000 animals and $50 million by implementing alternative animal testing methods to assess the safety of their member companies’ products. Researchers evaluated 261 chemicals found in cleaning products using two methods: read-across and in silico (computer modeling). Both fill data gaps and provide hazard assessment predictions where there was limited information.

New Model for Studying Blood Vessel Growth

Researchers recently used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to design a new test model that could replace animal use for drug screening and toxicity assessment for angiogenesis (the process of new blood vessel growth).

Merck Scraps Development of Osteoporosis Drug Due to Stroke Risk

Merck halted development of a potentially effective treatment for osteoporosis due to adverse effects in women. Despite success in reducing the rate of fractures, Merck will not continue testing or seek FDA approval, due to the increased risk of stroke in women. This late-stage failure in humans occurred after testing for safety in animals. Improved tests that predict side effects and lead to safer and more effective treatments for osteoporosis are needed, as one in two women and one in four men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Workshop Recommends Investment in Human Lung Models to Assess Tobacco’s Effects

Three-dimensional reconstructed models of the human lung provide more human-relevant results than animal tests in assessing the effects of tobacco products on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new workshop report co-authored by the Physicians Committee’s Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals.

Ensuring Lautenberg Act Has Resources to Minimize Animal Testing

To successfully implement the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act—which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce and replace animal testing—the EPA and stakeholders need to dedicate significant resources to the development and validation of human-relevant toxicological test methods, according to a new Physicians Committee commentary in Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Environment Report.

Update: Animal Testing Failed to Predict Toxicity in French Drug Death

A new report concludes that the death of one man and the hospitalizations of others in a phase 1 clinical trial in France in January was caused by the toxicity of the drug—which was shown to be safe in animal tests on rats, mice, dogs, and monkeys.
“At this day, the most likely hypothesis is that the molecule is itself toxic,” says the report from the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety. The report says that it’s “inexplicable” why this wasn’t clear in preclinical trials on animals.

Scientists Find Brain Cells Responsible for Imagination in Humans

Using an imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers from the University College of London revealed that grid cells are also active even when healthy human volunteers are only imagining that they are navigating through an environment. The study showed that grid cells in the entorhinal cortex create an internal hexagonal grid-like coordinate system to help us remember our locations and navigate during imagination.

New Method for Culturing Stem Cells Brings Technology Closer to the Clinic

Researchers from Dr. Huey-Ching Wang’s group at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research reported on a human protein called vitronectin, which makes up part of the matrix that cells move on, is capable of allowing iPSCs to grow and remain as stem cells in long-term cultures without animal product contamination.

Animal Test Details Emerge in French Drug Trial Death

A new report details how preclinical drug experiments on animals failed to predict the death of one man and the hospitalizations of others in a Phase 1 clinical trial in France in January.

Reassuring Genetic Changes in Stem Cells Generated from Humans

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) serve as alternatives to animal-based models of human diseases while also serving as promising therapeutic candidates for many degenerative or chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Innovative Technology Identifies Heart Toxicity Without Using Animals

University of Toronto engineers developed laboratory-grown heart tissues that mimic actual human heart tissues.

Tox21 Tests 10,000 Chemicals without Animals

The U.S. government’s Tox21 program, which uses robotics for large-scale in vitro toxicity screening of chemicals, recently tested 10,000 chemicals and concluded that in vitro test data performed better than animal tests in predicting human toxicity, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Modern Methods Should Replace Animal Experiments for Medical Progress

A new commentary published by NPR makes the case that ethics should be included in the debate about animal experimentation.

Advancing Heart Failure Research Using Human-Based Approaches

Heart failure is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite decades of extensive research, we only have a few interventions for human heart failure. Thus there is a great need to increase our understanding of heart failure pathology in order to develop new preventive and treatment strategies.

Human Microcapillary in Multiorgan Chip Will Facilitate Drug Testing

A group of scientists has recently developed a multiorgan chip device characterized by the presence of a human microcapillary system composed of adipose-derived stromal cells (cells of the connective tissue) co-cultured with human umbilical vein endothelial cells, which were able to form tube-like structures.

Device that Mimics Developing Brain Will Help Test Drug Effects

Animals have been extensively used to test the effects of toxins on the brain. But now, a group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has recently developed a new model composed of Jell-O-like substance (polyethylene glycol hydrogel), human neural stem cells, endothelial cells and mesenchymal stem cells (to account for the vascular component), and microglia/macrophage precursors (to account for immune cells) to recreate the cellular interactions occurring within the developing human brain.

Ethics and Animal Welfare Rules Outweigh Published Scientific Data

Mice are extensively used in cancer research as recipients of cancer cell growth. Human cancer cells are transplanted into mouse tissues and organs (xenograft) in an effort to simulate cancer growth and test possible treatments.

In Vitro Model Helps Better Understand Breast Cancer Metastasis

A group at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by Shelly Peyton, Ph.D., is working on a new in vitro model composed of a biomaterial screening platform, which recreates brain, lung, and bone marrow tissue, to assess how breast cancer cells adhere and migrate in these tissues.

Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells to Discover New Drugs

Human induced pluripotent stem cell models seem promising for the discovery of novel drugs suitable for the treatment of human pathologies.

3-D Device Simulates Female Reproductive System and Liver

Scientists from Northwestern University, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently developed a miniaturized 3-D device named EVATAR™ that simulates the female reproductive tract and liver.

Bias in Preclinical Animal Research

Both the general public and health care workers have high expectations for animal research, which is often considered important or even necessary to evaluate drug safety and predict drug efficacy in humans.

New Paper Suggests Need for Human-Relevant Alzheimer’s Research

A new commentary in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease by Physicians Committee medical research specialist Francesca Pistollato, Ph.D., and colleagues, addresses the need to refocus current research efforts on human-based methods, such as human cells and computational models, together with epidemiological and clinical studies. These tools will help facilitate human-relevant data acquisition, in an effort to face the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Environmental Pollutants in Rodent Diets Compromise Scientific Data Reliability

Rodents are extensively used in both biomedical research and regulatory testing. Nevertheless, handling procedures and housing conditions can potentially compromise the reliability of scientific data. According to a recent study, the quality of food the animals eat on a daily basis must also be taken into account.

Synthetic Organ for Study of Cancer and Infectious Disease Therapies

Scientific research on B cells, which control the immune response by producing antibodies, has traditionally relied on the use of animals. Engineers at Cornell University have recently created a functional, synthetic immune B cell organ, resembling lymphoid tissue.

3-D Human Lung Model to Assess Therapeutics for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which occurs mainly in smokers, is an inflammatory disorder characterized by narrowing of the smaller airways in the lungs, high production of mucus, and shortness of breath during exercise.

Human Heart-on-a-Chip for Drug Screening and Personalized Medicine

Drug discovery and development still rely on the use of animal models, despite the fact that animals have been proven to be poor representatives of human biology and physiology.

Nonanimal Tests Better Predict Tobacco Toxicity

Physicians Committee director of regulatory testing Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., co-authored a new research paper on tobacco product toxicology studies in the peer-reviewed journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals.

Human Heart-on-a-Chip Could Improve Drug Testing

A new heart-on-a-chip system could allow researchers to test drug toxicity more effectively, according to a new publication in Scientific Reports.

Hundreds of Diabetes Studies in Mice Misinterpreted

Expression of human growth hormone in diabetes mouse models could distort study results, according to a new publication in Cell Metabolism.

Human-Based Research for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Needed

A new scientific commentary by Physicians Committee medical research specialist Sarah E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., emphasizes the need for a shift in priorities in the field of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) research.

Limitations of Leptin in Rodent Models

rodent models of type 2 diabetes do not accurately reflect the disease as it occurs in humans

Human Cell Culture Can Predict Potential Toxicity of Drugs and Other Chemicals

Primary human cells can be used in place of animals to test environmental and industrial chemicals, according to a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology.

Computer-Based Testing Methods Reduce Animal Testing

Computer-based testing methods can lead to significant reductions in the use of animals in chemical testing