Human tissues vital for testing medicines
A new paper published by Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology:
"Advances in the development and use of human tissue-based techniques for drug toxicity testing"
• Human tissues have a vital role to play in drug toxicity evaluation.
• For many toxicity issues, the reliability of animal models is so poor that the greater relevance of human tissues offers invaluable advantages.
Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects:
"For decades, mice have been the species of choice in the study of human diseases. But now, researchers report evidence that the mouse model has been totally misleading for at least three major killers - sepsis, burns and trauma. As a result, years and billions of dollars have been wasted following false leads, they say."
"They are so ingrained in trying to cure mice that they forget we are trying to cure humans."
"It argues strongly - go to the patients. Get their cells. Get their tissues whenever you can."
In an editorial entitled: "Of men, not mice", the journal Nature Medicine commented:
"Although the message that mice are an imperfect model for human disease is far from new, these recent results should prompt some soul-searching among disease researchers… Rather than overrelying on animal models to understand what happens in humans, isn't it time to embrace the human 'model' to move forward?"
New Scientist 15 December: “How human biology can prevent drug deaths”
“It is a tragedy that so many suffer or die through the use of inadequately tested drugs when tests based on human biology are readily available. Yet governments continue to mandate animal tests, despite the lack of a formal demonstration of fitness for purpose, and a growing global realisation among scientists that animal toxicity tests are inadequate and must be replaced.” See more...
The Government is in denial
The UK medicines regulator, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) appears to be out of step with global scientific opinion that better methods are needed to improve the safety of new medicines. Although current methods include computer models and in vitro tests, they rely mainly on tests in animals.
Despite global calls to modernise safety testing, the MHRA insists that animal tests are irreplaceable and is extraordinarily dismissive of two of the most exciting breakthroughs: microdosing and ‘body on chip’ devices, saying that they are “not superior technologies”.
Please write to them – see more...
MPs back our campaign above 99% of all parliamentary motions
With 160 MP signatures, our Early Day Motion (EDM 475) calling for safer medicines was among the most-signed 1% of over 3,000 EDMs in the 2010-12 session of parliament.
This was the 3rd time our EDM had been in the top 1% – previous motions in 2005-06 and 2008-09 attracted 250 and 243 signatures, respectively. Clearly, there is phenomenal parliamentary support for the modernisation of drug safety testing that we are calling for.
Thank you so much to all of you who contacted your MPs – you really made a difference.
15,000 signature petition delivered to Number 10 Downing Street
Veteran politician Tony Benn joined actors Mat Fraser and Carol Royle, plus Green MP Dr Caroline Lucas, to present a 15,000 signature petition to Number 10 Downing Street. The Safer Medicines patrons, alongside other MPs, including David Amess (Conservative), Dr Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat) and Grahame Morris (Labour), are calling for superior new tests based on human biology to be compared with the animal tests currently used to assess the safety of new medicines.
View the presentation here.
Second letter published in The Lancet
Predictably, the pro-animal-research lobby attacked our open letter to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary with a response published in The Lancet on 9th July.
We are very pleased that our response to such a false and ill-informed attack was published in The Lancet on 28th October.
Open letter to David Cameron and Andrew Lansley published in The Lancet
Safer Medicines Trust joined forces with 21 senior scientists to call on the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to compare animal tests for drug safety with newer tests based on human biology. Our letter was published in the world's leading medical journal, The Lancet, here.
The Daily Mail also reported on the story, here.
Newsletter Autumn 2011 available now
Article published on the Science Advisory Board website
Human-Focused Testing to Treat Human Diseases
Human Tissues Conference Proceedings published
The proceedings of our Human Tissue Conference, held in the House of Lords in October 2009, have been published as a special edition of the journal Cell & Tissue Banking.
Press Complaints Commission defends Sunday Times' rewriting of medical history
If you were the PCC, how would you defend a newspaper's claim that British Airways, for example, rather than the Wright brothers, pioneered flight? Simple: rewrite the definition of the word "pioneer"!
Incredibly, this is how low those who are charged with upholding standards in the press are willing to stoop in order to defend the media's wilful misrepresentation of facts concerning animal experimentation. This concerns Safer Medicines Campaign because we exist to expose the truth about the best means to discover and develop treatments for patients and to ensure their safety.
The truth is that medical progress is overwhelmingly the result of human clinical observation and studies of human tissues and human disease, rather than research based on animal "models" of human disease. In fact, patients are frequently harmed by reliance on misleading data from animal experimentation. We do not oppose animal experimentation per se but we do believe that it should cease to be given precedence over human-focused testing. Greater focus on research based on human biology would accelerate medical progress and improve the safety of treatments for patients.
But defenders of animal experimentation often claim that medical breakthroughs depended on animal experimentation, refusing to acknowledge that the pivotal discoveries were made in humans (or in vitro) and only later recapitulated in animal models. Their mission is to convince people that animal experimentation is crucial to medical progress. In their eagerness to make their point, truth is often jettisoned in favour of good copy. Editorial codes stipulating accuracy do not appear to apply to this particular topic, as we have found many times.
Public consultation on computer modelling
An EU-funded public consultation on the use of computer modelling as an alternative to animal testing has been launched. The questionnaire is quite short; please take this opportunity to find out more about in silico methods and support their use. The impact of these methods is also discussed in relation to REACH, the EU programme to gather toxicity data on thousands of chemicals. A questionnaire for scientists is also available.
Human Tissues Conference Proceedings published
The Proceedings of our Human Tissues Conference, held in the House of Lords in October 2009, have just been published online by the journal Cell & Tissue Banking! Please contact us or visit the journal website.
The Politics Show (BBC1) interviewed Safer Medicines Director, Sunday 26th September
Kathy Archibald, Director of Safer Medicines Campaign and Safer Medicines Trust, was interviewed live on the Politics Show on Sunday 26th September (East Midlands region). You can watch the programme here, with kind permission of the BBC.