Current checks to establish whether a new drug is carcinogenic can be inconclusive and require further testing on live animals to establish whether they are harmful or not.
Dr Richard Walmsley and colleagues at the University spin-out company he founded, Gentronix, have developed techniques using cultured human cells to more effectively weed out cancer-causing compounds.
“The current pre-animal tests that are used are highly sensitive and so most carcinogens are identified,” said Dr Walmsley, who is based in the Faculty of Life Sciences.
“Unfortunately, such tests have poor specificity and a lot of safe compounds are also wrongly identified as potential carcinogens. This means that animal testing is still carried out, in case such compounds turn out to be safe.
“The testing process developed at Gentronix has proven very reliable at telling us whether a drug will cause cancer but some chemicals, called promutagens, only become carcinogenic once they have passed through the body’s liver.
“This grant will help us develop new non-animal experiments to identify these other toxic compounds and so reduce the need for animal testing.”
The funding – awarded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) – will help the scientists establish new genotoxicity tests using cultured human liver cells.
It is hoped the new test will not only reduce the number of compounds that are tested on animals but also ensure harmless chemicals that could prove to be useful new drugs are not falsely labelled as carcinogens.
“I don’t believe that animal testing will disappear from drug safety assessment in the short term as you can’t ask human volunteers to take novel drugs straight from testing done in tube tests,” said Dr Walmsley.
“But if we can refine the pre-animal tests and increase people’s confidence in them, then we will be able to reduce the number of chemicals that are tested on live animals.”
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02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
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In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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