Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Lab Rat -- Created in the Lab

14.04.2010
TAU is bioengineering tissues as an alternative to animal testing

It's illegal for health products with medical formulations to be accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration without tests on animals — a situation that has serious ethical and moral implications. New research in the field of tissue engineering by Prof. Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Engineering holds a promise that far fewer lab animals will be needed for the necessary experimental trials.

Dr. Gefen's research into fat cells, published in a recent issue of Tissue Engineering , has led him to conclude that the necessary tissue can be produced from fat, skin, bone and muscle cells. His breakthrough study could have hundreds of applications in the pharmaceutical and medical world.

"Drugs make our lives better, and basic science is needed to push new drugs through clinical trials. But there is no doubt that an untold number of animals are sacrificed in the laboratory setting — both in basic research and in applied conditions when testing particular molecules," says Prof. Gefen, who heads TAU's Teaching Laboratory for Cell and Tissue Engineering. As a medical researcher himself, he was dependent on animal trials for testing new hypotheses he developed for living systems — until recently.

A more efficient road to scientific research

Bridging the worlds of biology and engineering, Prof. Gefen is now using adult rat stem cells — cells that can be stimulated to create skin, bone, fat and muscle tissue from an animal in a laboratory setting. In his own work on studying the mechanical properties of pressure ulcers, many tissue replications were needed. His new approach no longer requires the sacrifice of large numbers of animals. When an experiment is over, not one animal life has been lost.

The use of engineered tissues, says Prof. Gefen, may also be more scientifically efficient than using those from a living source. "The model we've created offers a very reliable method for researchers asking questions about basic science, and those investigating new drugs. We can injure tissue in a very controlled environment and grow muscle tissue without blood vessels, thereby neutralizing certain variables that often cloud what's happening in an experiment."

Saving lives and improving research at the same time

Though Prof. Gefen's method may not completely eliminate the need for animal testing, as few as 5% of the animals used today will need to be sacrificed in future tests, he predicts.

"It's a matter of proportion. Our tools spare an enormous number of lives," Prof. Gefen says. He is currently bringing together a number of discrete research directions from the separate fields of mechanics, tissue engineering and biology. He is also developing a new tool for researchers to investigate fat accumulation in cells (an important question for diabetes researchers) and weight loss drugs. Among his devices is one that can tell doctors how much mechanical stress is being placed on a person's foot, buttocks or other soft tissues. Another measures how much sensation is left in a diabetic limb. For all these approaches, Prof. Gefen has adopted tissue engineering methods to use fewer animals in his trials.

"We are now able to build a number of 'simplified' living tissues quite readily, and we're able to keep them 'alive,'" Prof. Gefen says. "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."

In the future, Prof. Gefen hopes that similar models can be based on live human tissue, but that could be a number of years down the road.

George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aftau.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>