Researchers Test Cancer Drugs Without Animals Thanks to Human-Simulating Chips

On top of being cruelty free, the new method is also more efficient.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thisD-Keine/iStock

A team of researchers led by Professor Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founder of Tissue Dynamic, has revealed a new much more precise approach to testing drugs without harming animals.

“Drug development is a long and expensive endeavor that is defined by multiple failures. The main reason for this failure is that clinical experiments are ultimately based on minimal information gained from animal experiments which often fail to replicate the human response," said in a statement Nahmias.

Animal tests often use mice and rats, harming the animals in the process while also providing inaccurate results since these rodents have different genetics, physiology, and metabolism than humans.

The Hebrew University team expanded on a technology that has existed for 30 years to develop human-on-a-chip technology and added microscopic sensors in the human tissue itself enabling the team to precisely monitor the body’s response to specific drug treatments.

“What makes our technology unique is that it allows us to go beyond what was ever possible with animal experimentation. We are now able to insert microsensors that offer us real-time information on how drugs work and when they stop working,” explained Nahmias.

The researchers then used this new technology to prove that the commonly used cancer drug, cisplatin, causes a dangerous buildup of fat in human kidneys. “This groundbreaking technology has the potential to significantly reduce the testing and production time for drugs while also avoiding the need to test animals in the lab. This will save time, money, and certainly unnecessary suffering," said Nahmias

The researcher added that his company Tissue Dynamic is now moving ahead with clinical testing and working towards regulatory approval of specific drugs as a new way to treat cancer. The study is published in the journal Science Transitional Medicine.


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