The question “what methods can be used instead of animals?” is a great one, and there’s no one simple answer.
That said, the list of possibilities continues to grow.
Below is just a sampling of some leading alternatives, and it comes to us from a report written by a UK-based group named Focus on Alternatives:
Gene-hunting tools to pinpoint and understand, in human populations, the importance of different genes in a range of illnesses
Cell and molecular studies to understand disease mechanisms and the effects of vaccines and pharmaceuticals
Ultra-sensitive analytical techniques, such accelerator mass spectrometry, allowing safe, ethical, microdose studies of medicines in volunteers
Advanced microscopic techniques for imaging and analysing human cell functions in health and disease
Biosensors that synergise cell research with microelectronics, to study metabolism, toxicity and disease biomarkers
High-powered computer models that realistically simulate the human body and its component systems and organs, and their reactions to medicines
Novel gene-silencing approaches to study specific gene functions in human tissues in the test tube
Studies of post-mortem tissues bequeathed by patients to gain insight into cell-level changes in human illnesses
Computational analysis of human data to understand the lifecycle of disease viruses in the human body
Tissue engineering re-creates three-dimensional human tissues in the test tube, for disease research, drug development and safety testing
Computer predictions of medicinal effects based on the structures of pharmaceutical molecules
High-technology, safe imaging of the human brain to understand neurological disorders
As we move away from outdated animal testing toward superior methods this list continues to grow. NEAVS grantee, Dr. Sushila Maharjan Ph.D, is doing exciting work with organs-on-chips and 3-D tissue models as alternatives to using animals in research. You can learn more about her work in her own words on our website.