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Predicting Human Drug Toxicity and Safety via Animal Tests: Can Any One Species Predict Drug Toxicity in Any Other, and Do Monkeys Help?

Jarrod Bailey, Michelle Thew and Michael Balls

Animals are still widely used in drug development and safety tests, despite evidence for their lack of predictive value. In this regard, we recently showed, by producing Likelihood Ratios (LRs) for an extensive data set of over 3,000 drugs with both animal and human data, that the absence of toxicity in animals provides little or virtually no evidential weight that adverse drug reactions will also be absent in humans. While our analyses suggest that the presence of toxicity in one species may sometimes add evidential weight for risk of toxicity in another, the LRs are extremely inconsistent, varying substantially for different classes of drugs. Here, we present further data from analyses of other species pairs, including nonhuman primates (NHPs), which support our previous conclusions, and also show in particular that test results inferring an absence of toxicity in one species provide no evidential weight with regard to toxicity in any other species, even when data from NHPs and humans are compared. Our results for species including humans, NHPs, dogs, mice, rabbits, and rats, have major implications for the value of animal tests in predicting human toxicity, and demand that human-focused alternative methods are adopted in their place as a matter of urgency.
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An Analysis of the Use of Animal Models in Predicting Human Toxicology and Drug Safety

Jarrod Bailey, Michelle Thew and Michael Balls

Animal use continues to be central to preclinical drug development, in spite of a lack of its demonstrable validity. The current nadir of new drug approvals and the drying-up of pipelines may be a direct consequence of this. To estimate the evidential weight given by animal data to the probability that a new drug may be toxic to humans, we have calculated Likelihood Ratios (LRs) for an extensive data set of 2,366 drugs, for which both animal and human data are available, including tissue-level effects and MedDRA Level 1–4 biomedical observations. This was done for three preclinical species (rat, mouse and rabbit), to augment our previously-published analysis of canine data. In common with our dog analysis, the resulting LRs show: a) that the absence of toxicity in the animal provides little or virtually no evidential weight that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) will also be absent in humans; and b) that, while the presence of toxicity in these species can add considerable evidential weight for human risk, the LRs are extremely inconsistent, varying by over two orders of magnitude for different classes of compounds and their effects. Therefore, our results for these additional preclinical species have important implications for their use in predicting human toxicity, and suggest that alternative methods are urgently required.

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Why do the Numbers of Laboratory Animal Procedures Conducted Continue to Rise? An Analysis of the Home Office Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005

Michelle Hudson

The publication of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005 once again provides evidence that the levels of animal experimentation in Great Britain are rising, the underlying reason for this being the continued and increasing reliance on genetically modified animals as model systems. There has been a gradual increase in fundamental research, as applied toxicological studies have declined. Of particular concern is the impact that the forthcoming REACH legislation will have and the apparent lack of urgency in facing up to this challenge. The major issues arising from the Statistics are discussed, including the increases in rabbit and primate procedures. The potential of newly validated and emerging techniques to counteract these worrying trends are also considered.
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