It is now possible to reproduce 3D human tissue structures for in vitro testing in laboratories. This is a hugely exciting development. However, how close are we to using this technology to completely replace current animal testing? To answer this question, I contacted Organovo, a bio-technology company based in California, USA. Their goal is to build living human tissues that accurately represent human biology.
Q: Are your services legally acceptable replacements for animal testing?
Our services are within the “research use only” categorization for laboratory practices. We believe our human tissues will add translational value in predicting human response in a way that has been far too often lacking in animal models.
Q: Are companies taking advantage of these services to replace animal testing?
We have strong interest in our technology, but companies will not be able to replace animal models until both the technology produces more proof of performance, and government regulations are changed.
Q: What are the obstacles, are the costs prohibitive?
“Our technology is less expensive than running animal studies; however, our data is generated from a tissue rather than a full biological system. Animal studies will likely continue to be needed, but it is possible that by introducing human tissues to the discovery process the number of animals and animal study types can be reduced.
Q: What steps are you taking to educate companies and government about the benefits of your services and how much more meaningful the test results are as opposed to animal tests where the results obtained with animal subjects cannot be extrapolated to humans and are often misleading?
The US FDA has shown interest in understanding our technology and its potential to improve drug safety and efficacy. We have been fully cooperative when engaging in these dialogues with the Agency and our US elected officials who provide agency oversight.
In conclusion, while it is still early days, scientific progress is rapidly advancing us towards the goal of eradicating animal testing forever.
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