Technological advancements must facilitate more respectful and productive relationships with our collaborators from the animal kingdom. Animal testing is in the era of the 3Rs, which means replacing, reducing, and refining alternatives.
Animal testing is a necessary component of the pharmaceutical industry's preclinical research. Here are a few areas of innovation that professionals in that field, and adjacent areas, can't afford to ignore.
1. Precision Medicine
Precision medicine is an approach in which clinical and molecular information is integrated to understand the biological basis of a disease. Genome sequencing provides information needed in precision medicine. Genome sequencing is converting DNA into data. The data is then used by researchers to identify gene biomarkers or abnormalities. Moreover, this helps us to understand the drug’s effectiveness on different types of patients and those likely to have severe side effects. Consequently, aiding in the development of new targeted therapies.
Advancements in the health technology that drives mobile and wearable devices enables us to collect data through advanced sensors with powerful processors. Consequently, as more people contribute their data for research, the more powerful the results. Hence these devices monitor the stress, sleep, heart rate, blood glucose, temperature, blood oxygen, and other measurements useful in research. They then share the measurements with researchers. These devices can make animal research more efficient and informative, by orders of magnitude.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Using computers with learning abilities, we can interpret millions of pages of scientific literature to help pharmaceutical companies create new drugs. The computers can discover new unknown connections between diseases; it learns and offers recommendations based on new information. Indeed, it will eventually reduce research costs and shift the landscape of animal testing.
4. 3D Bioprinting Technology
With 3D bioprinting technology, we can finally develop artificial skin, which is expected to become an alternative to certain kinds of animal testing. We can test pharmaceutical skin products on real human skin before commercialization. Thus, we can understand the actual effects of these ointments on human skin. Even though it's an expensive undertaking, developing efficient technologies will require streamlining and modernization in animal research.
5. Mitra® Microsampling and VAMS® Technology
With Mitra microsampling technology, those in preclinical research lessen the amount of blood collected from laboratory animals such as rats and mice, thus reducing the number of animals used in tests. Volumetric absorptive microsampling technology (VAMS) draws a fixed, tiny amount of blood from the animal. It allows sampling a single animal at multiple time points, cuts reliance on satellite populations, and eliminates cold chain shipping and storage costs. Indeed, microsampling is the perfect example of how a shift in animal research is already occurring today, in our labs, before our eyes.