The BUAV has welcomed the announcement in the USA of the 'Tissue Chip for Drug Testing' programme. A £45 million project funded by three US agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).
The researchers have announced that as well as improving and speeding up drug development, the move could prevent the suffering and death of many thousands of animals in laboratories. It has bee reported that one of the goal is to simulate a whole human body by linking together 10 different organ chips. Each "organ" will be about the size of a computer memory stick and is composed of clear flexible plastic containing hollow channels lined with living human cells. Researchers cite the crucial differences between rodents and humans which results in adverse reactions or side effects only becoming apparent during human patient trials - or even when a drug is marketed.
Dr Katy Taylor, scientific adviser for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: 'This is an exciting example of how modern-day innovation can produce a humane and more reliable approach to understanding the inner workings of human disease without the need for animal suffering. The USA appears to be leading the way in funding alternatives, it is now time for the UK to catch up.'