Dr. Gefen is the head of Tel Aviv University’s Teaching Laboratory for Cell and Tissue Engineering, and he has just published the results of a study in which he determined that the tissues necessary for “animal testing” can be bio-engineered from animal fat, skin, bone, and muscle cells.
Countless animals are sacrificed each year in labs throughout the world for both basic research, and pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic applications where specific molecules or formulations need to be tested. Dr.Gefen, however, has already begun to use bio-engineered tissues in his research instead of live animals, and says that they are “now able to build a number of ‘simplified’ living tissues quite readily, and we’re able to keep them ‘alive.’” He also says that, “They’re genetically similar to the biological tissue of the animal, so we can factor out irrelevant physiological elements such as bleeding and pain response in an experiment. The fact that this tissue is genetically identical and the environmental factors are so well controlled means that we can obtain far more experimental reproducibility than with experiments done on live animals.”
Although Professor Gefen’s methods may not completely eliminate the need for test animals, he predicts that as few as 5% of the animals currently used will be needed in the future. He also hopes that similar methods “can be based on live human tissue, but that could be a number of years down the road.” [Science Daily]
Can’t decide if you’re for or against animal testing? Read this: [Animal Testing Pro and Con]