Review of advanced non-animal models in biomedical research
EURL ECVAM has launched a series of studies to review available and emerging non-animal models being used for research in seven disease areas:
- respiratory tract diseases
- breast cancer
- neurodegenerative disorders
- immunogenicity testing for advanced medicinal therapy products
- cardiovascular diseases
- autoimmune diseases
The aim is to identify and describe specific research contexts where animal models have been put aside in favour of novel non-animal techniques that use, for example, in vitro methods based on human cells and engineered tissues or in silico approaches employing computer modelling and simulation.
Transition towards non-animal approaches
The expectation is that by understanding and sharing information on successful use-cases of alternative models in biomedical research, the transition towards non-animal approaches can be better facilitated and potentially accelerated.
Tackling human diseases
Encouraging the uptake of alternative methods is important to tackle such considerable reliance on animal experiments for carrying out research.
Moreover, since alternative methods offer the promise of recapitulating human physiology more effectively than many animal models, shifting to new animal-free methodologies and research strategies can in fact enhance the understanding of human-specific biology and disease.
The series of studies
A total of 284 publications were identified as the most representative and innovative models according to a set of inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Around 120,000 peer-reviewed publications were retrieved and screened for innovative and promising advanced non-animal models of breast cancer.
We created an inventory of 567 models, ranging from biochemical and computational approaches to different types of cell cultures and procedures using ex vivo human material.
542 scientific peer-reviewed articles were selected for a deeper analysis of the non-animal models used.
88 advanced non-animal models were selected as being promising for testing immunogenicity of ATMPs.
We identified 449 publications as candidate advanced non-animal models used for cardiovascular disease research.
Today, only about 25% of new drugs to treat cardiovascular diseases reach market authorisation. Innovative non-animal models are helping scientific research come to grips with the number-one killer in the EU and worldwide.
The JRC adds a new knowledge base of 542 models used in the immuno-oncology field to its freely available collection of advanced non-animal models for biomedical research.
To mark Parkinson’s awareness month, the JRC has published a freely available knowledge base of non-animal models to advance research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The JRC has produced a freely available knowledge base of over 900 non-animal models for breast cancer research. Furthermore, a new factsheet on breast cancer burden in the EU-27 has also been published.
A new JRC study describes almost 300 non-animal models used for research on respiratory diseases and the development of new drugs and therapies.