Advanced non-animal models for respiratory tract diseases and breast cancer
The JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) has initiated a series of studies to review the current non-animal models available in the diverse areas of biomedical research. These studies aim to evaluate specific research contexts where scientists used novel non-animal techniques in order to provide other scientists with relevant information on their successful applications in biomedical research.
The first review was focused on respiratory disease research. After screening over 21 000 publications from scientific literature, 284 non-animal models were selected and compiled in a dataset using following criteria:
- disease area of research (e.g. asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, …);
- disease feature (e.g. airway modelling, inflammation, gene expression, …);
- type of nonanimal model (e.g. 3D in vitro cultures, ex vivo tissue cultures, in silico approaches, …);
- biological endpoint to describe the health effect (e.g. DNA damage, protein dysfunction, cytotoxicity, metabolism, …);
- application of the model (e.g. diagnosis of disease, drug testing, disease therapy development, …);
- potential of the model in further studies (e.g. mechanistic studies, disease progression, biomarker discovery, …).
The second review was focused on breast cancer research. Around 120 000 scientific papers on breast cancer were screened, and 935 models were identified as being the most representative and promising in this area. These models are based mainly on techniques that use cells and tissues cultured in the laboratory (in vitro), computer modelling and simulation (in silico) or cells and tissues explanted from a patient (ex vivo).
Both of these knowledge bases are freely accessible and can be used by various stakeholders (researchers, educators, funding bodies, project evaluation committees, National Contact Points, …) to:
- Identify models and methods that can be adapted and applied to tackle specific research questions,
- Provide the latest information on the stateof-the-art to students,
- Identify impactful research avenues and target promising areas for investment.