Changes to the regulation of animal experiments

On 29th September, 2022, the US Senate unanimously passed the biparisan #FDA Modernization Act 2.0 to end animal testing mandates. A similar shift is happening in the EU (Resolution 2021/1784). The reason for the change is the development of alternative technologies and the lack of transferability from animals to humans. If such a shift occurred in Australia, some companies are ready to take advantage of such a move. In particular, Tessara Therapeutics. Tessara have spent some years developing in vitro test systems based on human cell-based tissue constructs. (See ‘Brain tech to speed up drugs’, Natasha Robinson, The Australian, 24.6.22) The company won the 2022 Health, Life Sciences and BioTech Company of the Year at the prestigious Technology Scale-Up Awards. See ‘Alternative methods’ below for more details.


Some human-centred research on the coronavirus:

Three-dimensional reconstructed human respiratory tissue models, such as those from Epithelix ( can be used to study COVID-19 infection and screen for potential treatments.

Researchers at the University of Bristol are growing the virus in cells to gain a better understanding of the way it spreads and causes sickness. Using this technique, they can find out whether it mutates under certain conditions. This work provides crucial information about how the virus causes disease.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US are using Summit - a supercomputer - to identify existing drugs that could be effective in treating COVID-19 in humans. Based on the physical properties of the virus and of each drug, the computer predicts how the two might interact. The effectiveness of promising drugs can then be measured by testing them on cells infected with the virus.

Sydney scientists at Royal North Shore Hospital have set up a new trial to investigate whether existing blood pressure medications (angiotensin receptor blockers) can stop the coronavirus from infiltrating the body’s cells. The research is supported by other national and international institutions. The aim is to enrol 600 patients in the trial to see whether the drugs can reduce severity and length of COVID-19 infection in hospitalised patients.

Many new educational and training opportunities are opening in immunisation and epidemiology. Contact the National Centre for Immunisation research and surveillance.

An area to watch The use of Artificial Intelligence in developing alternatives. Huge advances in AI mean researchers can design completely original molecules in seconds instead of months. This technology has already been used to design a protein that could be used in a vaccine against a respiratory virus that is a leading cause of infant hospitalisations. It is hopeful that it may be used in drug discovery also. (Nature, News, 15 September, 2022).

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