There is a distinct possibility that most animal testing labs will be closed down in the future provided a new replacement system is approved by the regulators. The proposed replacement system is one in which artificial humans replace animals for use in laboratory testing.
Artificial humans will potentially do away with the need for experiments that have claimed the lives of up to 90,000,000 animals worldwide annually. More than 4 million animals were used in laboratory experiments in Britain in 2013 and worldwide the figure is estimated at 115 million.
Within thee years, animal laboratories will begin to be replaced by farms made up of hundreds of artificial human machines. That is the bright future if things progress satisfactorily.
The human machines will simulate the response of humans to test substances which are inhaled, absorbed into the intestine or circulated throughout the bloodstream. In fact, early versions of artificial humans comprising an artificial lung, liver, kidney, heart and gut are already being used to test cosmetics, chemicals and drugs.
The machines are being developed by a company in Berlin, Germany, called TissUse. An engineer from the company, Uwe Marx, says that the machines will replace most types of animal tests including routine repeat dosage trials conducted on millions of rodents and complex tests such as experiments on diabetes induced in monkeys.
The human farms envisaged will comprise hundreds of the machines which are size of a microchip.
Harvard University scientists are also developing a similar system and are already using a five-organ version which includes artificial lungs to conduct tests on conditions such as asthma.
The new machines allow a much greater understanding of the mechanism of the human body and give insights to the scientists which are not possible with conventional animal studies.
In recent years scientists have used individual artificial organs such as hearts and livers to test products but these tests have to be followed up by further tests on animals to prove that the substances are safe when they are put into living bodies in which the organs interact.
Subsidies under test often behave differently in animals than in humans. Apparently, almost 50% of drugs that prove satisfactory in animal testing are later found to cause unforeseen side-effects when tested on humans.
Artificial human machines will not replace all animal testing, we are told. About 20% of animal testing will continue in respect of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or hip replacement technology. These conditions require tests on animals which weigh more than 88 pounds, apparently.
You may remember that animal testing has already been banned for products such as perfume and skin lotion (cosmetics) in Europe and North America. The bans on cosmetics testing encouraged scientist to develop alternatives and cosmetics companies are apparently playing a leading role in funding the science behind artificial human machines to substitute animal testing.
I suppose, at this stage we are hopeful but for all animal and cat lovers this must surely be wonderful news and we can only hope that it comes to fruition because if 80% of animal testing is eliminated it will saved countless millions of lives and a gazillion tons of misery suffered by animals in cages in bleak laboratories.