Computer Simulated Demonstration of the Actions of Drugs on the Isolated Perfused Mammalian Heart (Langendorff Preparation)
David G. Dewhurst
Frog Skin: A Computer Simulation of Experiments Performed on Frog Skin In Vitro to Investigate the Epithelial Transport of Ions
David G. Dewhurst
An Interactive Computer Program to Replace In Vivo Experiments on Rat Blood Pressure for Teaching Undergraduate Students
Chris Langley, Chris Brock, Gerard Brouwer, Alun Brown, Lucie Clapp, Jon Cohen, Tom Evans, Carol Newman, Samantha Orr, Barry Phillips, Andy Rhodes, Nigel Webster and Karl Wooldridge
Sepsis and multiple organ failure are common causes of death in patients admitted to intensive care units. The incidence of sepsis and associated mortalities has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years. Sepsis is a complex inflammatory condition, the precise causes of which are still poorly understood. Animal models of sepsis have the potential to cause substantial suffering, and many of them have been poorly representative of the human syndrome. However, a number of non-animal approaches, including in vitro, in silico and clinical studies, show promise for addressing this situation. This report is based on discussions held at an expert workshop convened by Focus on Alternatives and held in 2004 at the Wellcome Trust, London. It provides an overview of some non-animal approaches to sepsis research, including their strengths and weaknesses, and argues that they should be prioritised for further development.
Andrew Knight, Jarrod Bailey and Jonathan Balcombe
Conventional animal carcinogenicity tests take around three years to design, conduct and interpret. Consequently, only a tiny fraction of the thousands of industrial chemicals currently in use have been tested for carcinogenicity. Despite the costs of hundreds of millions of dollars and millions of skilled personnel hours, as well as millions of animal lives, several investigations have revealed that animal carcinogenicity data lack human specificity (i.e. the ability to identify human non-carcinogens), which severely limits the human predictivity of the bioassay. This is due to the scientific inadequacies of many carcinogenicity bioassays, and numerous serious biological obstacles, which render profoundly difficult any attempts to accurately extrapolate animal data in order to predict carcinogenic hazards to humans. Proposed modifications to the conventional bioassays have included the elimination of mice as a second species, and the use of genetically-altered or neonatal mice, decreased study durations, initiation–promotion models, the greater incorporation of toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic assessments, structure-activity relationship (computerised) systems, in vitro assays, cDNA microarrays for detecting changes in gene expression, limited human clinical trials, and epidemiological research. The potential advantages of nonanimal assays when compared to bioassays include the superior human specificity of the results, substantially reduced time-frames, and greatly reduced demands on financial, personnel and animal resources. Inexplicably, however, the regulatory agencies have been frustratingly slow to adopt alternative protocols. In order to decrease the enormous cost of cancer to society, a substantial redirection of resources away from excessively slow and resource-intensive rodent bioassays, into the further development and implementation of non-animal assays, is both strongly justified and urgently required.
Andrew Knight, Jarrod Bailey and Jonathan Balcombe
The 2001 European Commission proposal for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) aims to improve public and environmental health by assessing the toxicity of, and restricting exposure to, potentially toxic chemicals. The greatest benefits are expected to accrue from decreased cancer incidences. Hence the accurate identification of chemical carcinogens must be a top priority for the REACH system. Due to a paucity of human clinical data, the identification of potential human carcinogens has conventionally relied on animal tests. However, our survey of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) toxic chemicals database revealed that, for a majority of the chemicals of greatest public health concern (93/160, i.e. 58.1%), the EPA found animal carcinogenicity data to be inadequate to support classifications of probable human carcinogen or non-carcinogen. A wide variety of species were used, with rodents predominating; a wide variety of routes of administration were used; and a particularly wide variety of organ systems were affected. These factors raise serious biological obstacles that render accurate extrapolation to humans profoundly difficult. Furthermore, significantly different International Agency for Research on Cancer assessments of identical chemicals, indicate that the true human predictivity of animal carcinogenicity data is even poorer than is indicated by the EPA figures alone. Consequently, we propose the replacement of animal carcinogenicity bioassays with a tiered combination of non-animal assays, which can be expected to yield a weight-of-evidence characterisation of carcinogenic risk with superior human predictivity. Additional advantages include substantial savings of financial, human and animal resources, and potentially greater insights into mechanisms of carcinogenicity.
Dinesh K. Badyal, Vikas Modgill and Jasleen Kaur
It has become increasingly difficult to perform animal experiments, because of issues related to the procurement of animals, and strict regulations and ethical issues related to their use. As a result, it is felt that the teaching of pharmacology should be more clinically oriented and that unnecessary animal experimentation should be avoided. Although a number of computer simulation models (CSMs) are available, they are not being widely used. Interactive demonstrations were conducted to encourage the departmental faculty to use CSMs. Four different animal experiments were selected, that dealt with actions of autonomic drugs. The students observed demonstrations of animal experiments involving conventional methods and the use of CSMs. This was followed by hands-on experience of the same experiment, but using CSMs in small groups, instead of hands-on experience with the animal procedures. Test scores and feedback showed that there was better understanding of the mechanisms of action of the drugs, gained in a shorter time. The majority of the students found the teaching programme used to be good to excellent. CSMs can be used repeatedly and independently by students, and this avoids unnecessary experimentation and also causing pain and trauma to animals. The CSM programme can be implemented in existing teaching schedules for pharmacology undergraduate teaching with basic infrastructure support, and is readily adaptable for use by other institutes.