News & media

Research that can decrease the number of animal experiments

15 September 2010

Lab animals under Swedish conditions in 2008. Photo from www.djurförsö

The absorption and metabolism of drugs in liver cells – this is the focus for Per Artursson, a professor of drug formulation. Ultimately his research can not only reduce the number of animal experiments but also, in certain cases, replace animal experiments in various aspects of drug research.

There are many components of a liver cell that are involved when it takes up and breaks down drugs. Per Artursson’s research is about developing cell models that are specialists in various phases of absorption and metabolism in humans. The results from cell models are merged with computer models that include all the important phases. This means that a complete course of events in the liver cell can be imitated on the computer.

“A good analogy is weather forecasts, which are based on various data from a great many metering stations in the world. A computer analyzes all the data and compiles a forecast. And as computer models get better, weather forecasts become more reliable,” says Per Artursson.

Per Artursson’s virtual liver cell can ultimately reduce the need for animal experiments and, in some cases, may replace animal experiments in various phases of drug research.

“With our method we can see details surrounding what happens to a drug in a liver cell – it’s impossible to perform such measurements directly in a human being, and often animal experiments do not predict the results in humans, which can lead to unpleasant surprises when a drug is tested clinically,” says Per Artursson.

Read more:

Drug absorption, distribution and delivery

Pharmaceutical Formulation

More about alternatives to animal experiments at www.djurförsö, (a joint Web site for the universities of Uppsala, Lund, Gothenburg, Linköping, and Umeå, the Karolinska Institute, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the Swedish Research Council).