You are invited to a talk by Dr Azra Raza, Professor of Medicine at Columbia University in New York, international authority on leukaemia, acclaimed author of ‘The First Cell’, and Science Adviser to Safer Medicines Trust, followed by a Q&A chaired by Dr James Le Fanu and Professor Geoff Pilkington. Dr Le Fanu is a well-known columnist and historian of science and medicine, acclaimed author of ‘The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine’, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and Patron of Safer Medicines Trust. Professor Pilkington is is a leader in the field of brain tumour research, Emeritus Professor of Neuro-oncology, University of Portsmouth, former Head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and Science Adviser to Safer Medicines Trust.
The Animal Free Research Community of Practice is an interactive network for members to share their work, ideas, challenges and passion among likeminded peers.
With free membership for academic and early career scientists, students, industry and other stakeholders involved in biomedical research, members can interact online 24/7 as well as attend planned events, including open houses, roundtables and Helpathons.
A user-friendly website features up to date news, resources, tools, networking and project collaboration opportunities, latest research papers, job vacancies and academic openings. The community is curated by members and hosted by Animal Free Research UK coordinators.
New members can sign up and join the community by clicking here: Join the Community of Practice
Members are invited to create and add content to the online forum, share events and resources, and to collaborate on projects such as writing reviews, articles and much more. The Animal Free Research Community of Practice will bring scientists closer. It will raise awareness, deepen knowledge, drive creativity and spark passion for a science that benefits animals as well as humans.
We urge all who want to practice modern medical research – that which truly delivers benefits for human health – to sign up and become part of this important, exciting community.
A new paper in the 50th Anniversary issue of Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, co-authored by Dr Jan Turner, analyses the origins of regulations requiring animal safety tests for new medicines and whether they were justified then or now.
The thalidomide tragedy shocked the world and led to new laws requiring ‘proof of safety’ in animals, despite the irony that it was thalidomide’s near-total safety in animals that helped to cause the tragedy and would not have prevented it. This new analysis shows that moving away from animal testing is limited not by scientific possibilities, but by historical precedents and persistent beliefs that animal tests will prevent future tragedies. No amount of animal testing can eliminate the risks inherent in introducing new drugs to the market. Regarding animal tests as the gold standard gives a false sense of security, which acts as a barrier to creating potentially safer medicines and leads to human health risks, as well as the use and killing of many animals without a sound scientific basis.
Greater public and political awareness of the risks to public health that result from a continued reliance on animal testing can contribute to a shift in paradigm toward increased reliance on human-based safety testing. For scientists and regulatory bodies to contribute effectively to the transition away from animal testing, it is important that they continually reflect upon, and highlight how, an (often implicit) belief in animal testing as the gold standard continues to affect research, education, regulations, funding practices, etc. This should include a critical reflection on the 3Rs paradigm, as well as the critical perspectives of scholars from the humanities and social sciences, all of which are needed to break free from the confines of the current paradigm.
Read the whole paper here
On 28 and 29 June, Animal Free Research (AFR) held its 2022 conference on ‘Modernising Medical Research’, a welcome return to ‘in person’ events following the COVID-19 pandemic and several members of the Safer Medicines Trust team attended over both days.
The event had a very positive atmosphere, with the aim of exchanging knowledge and ideas in the transition towards modern, human relevant medical research to benefit public health. This aligns with the objective of the Safer Medicines Trust that patient safety can and must be improved by utilising better science.
Day one provided a series of talks from experts across many areas of research, for example on advances in in vitro technologies such as 3D organoids (‘mini organs’) or ‘Organ on a Chip’ models (also called microphysiological systems, or MPS). As shown in the image above, these are small devices lined with microchannels containing human cells, fluids and tissues which can test responses to drugs or monitor the progress of disease, to provide better prediction of the human response than conventionally used (animal) methods. A keynote speaker was Dr. Don Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University who pioneered MPS technology with the ‘Lung On A Chip’, first developed in 2010. Exciting advances in this technology over the last decade have resulted in many more models such as brain, liver and even the beating heart, ultimately working towards a ‘human on a chip’ to revolutionise drug discovery and disease research. Dr Ingber was also presented with an ‘Animal Free Research Pioneer’ Award.
Other talks presented human relevant methods that could be used to study brain tumours, liver disease and colorectal cancer and how such methods provide better translation from ‘bench to bedside’ when compared to animal models. One speaker for example, highlighted how the results of chemotherapy found in mice translate to humans less than 10% of the time. The importance of use of human tissue removed during surgery (which would otherwise be discarded) was also discussed.
Speakers also showcased their in silico research, which can very broadly be defined as ‘computer based’ methods, but includes a vast range of techniques from simpler drug screening analyses to complex ‘deep learning’ and artificial intelligence approaches, for example advanced computer simulations to investigate cardiac arrest and in silico analysis to examine the genetic traits of chronic diseases.
The methods described above are just a few examples of what are also collectively termed ’New Approach Methodologies’, or NAMs. A common barrier to the use of NAMs is the misperception that any one technique is expected to replace a corresponding animal method. This has never been the case. Instead, combinations of many techniques, for example in silico, in vitro and data from studies in humans can be combined to provide human relevant answers to research questions, where animal models often fail or do not even exist. This important issue (among others) was discussed at day two of the AFR conference, which was a ’round table’ event, bringing together scientists, campaigners and lobbyists to discuss how to effectively communicate to the research industry, regulators, political audiences and the public on the need to modernise scientific research by shifting to NAMs and ‘human relevant science for humans’. The need for change is already recognised by many in industry. For example, the in vitro toxicology testing market was valued at 8.3 billion US dollars in 2019 and is projected to be worth over 18 billion US dollars by 2027.
Safer Medicines Trust and AFR are founder members of the Alliance for Human Relevant Science, a collaboration of companies, charities and organisations launched in 2017 to accelerate awareness and use of human relevant approaches within industry and the scientific research community.
For more info on the Alliance for Human Relevant Science visit www.humanrelevantscience.org
For more info on the ‘Modernising Medical Research’ event visit Science Conference – Animal Free Research UK
3-minute highlights video now available: http://www.animalfreeresearchuk.org/scienceconference-2022/
World Patient Safety Day is grounded in the most fundamental principle of medicine – first do no harm “Medication Safety” is the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022. Safer Medicines Trust is a patient safety charity whose mission is to improve the safety of medicines, so we very much support calls for “Medication Without Harm”. The World […]The crisis of Alzheimer’s disease research: it’s time to embrace a new approach to help patients
The problem Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a leading cause of death in the UK and along with other dementias, is responsible for almost 11% of all deaths in England.1 More than 209,000 new cases are diagnosed each year across the UK.2 It remains a leading cause of death and disability worldwide3, affecting nearly 50 million […]