There are few topics more controversial than the use of animals in science, despite the enormous contribution animal experimentation continues to make to the development of new medicines and surgical techniques.
Animals have applications in enhancing the understanding, treatment, and cure of key disease areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, blindness and infectious disease. For this reason, it is generally accepted by the scientific community that animals offer many advantages when we want to understand the impact of disease on the body.
There is an increasing understanding that diseases do not always manifest in animals the same way they do in humans, and any drugs or other therapeutic options we might design to modulate a disease in an animal may work very differently (or not at all) when translated into human application.
That said, some animal experiments are necessary and scientists understand that these must be performed in a manner that reduces the numbers of animals used and ensures that any suffering experienced is minimised. These aims were formalised into the principles of the 3Rs, developed over 50 years ago to provide a framework for performing more humane animal research that is codified into national and international laws. The term “3Rs” covers three basic principles.
Replacement aims to avoid the use of animals in experiments designed to understand disease mechanisms or biological functions. Replacement relies heavily on the development of new technologies to provide tools that mimic biological mechanisms in vitro. Newcells Biotech makes substantial contributions to this process through its suite of in vitro assays.
Reduction minimises the number of animals used in each experiment by improving the design and data analysis from the procedure.
Refinement uses technological advances to develop methods of obtaining data from animal models to minimise the suffering involved. This approach involves diverse adaptations of techniques ranging from more precisely defined doses of prospective drugs to be tested in an animal model, to better ways of housing and feeding animals in laboratory environments.
At Newcells Biotech, we develop better ways to analyse xenobiotic substances’ efficacy and safety using in vitro cell-based assays. Our models are intended for use primarily in the pre-clinical stages of drug development, but since they are designed to be closer mimics of the physiology of human organs, they can be used to obtain a lot of data (how toxic a drug might be to the kidney, for example) that would otherwise be acquired by dosing animals such as rats with different concentrations of the drug. Quite apart from the safety and efficacy data with more relevance to humans, our models can be used in Replacement and Refinement principles, a process to which Newcells Biotech has a high degree of commitment.