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A lab rat -- created in the lab
Date:4/13/2010

method for researchers asking questions about basic science, and those investigating new drugs. We can injure tissue in a very controlled environment and grow muscle tissue without blood vessels, thereby neutralizing certain variables that often cloud what's happening in an experiment."

Saving lives and improving research at the same time

Though Prof. Gefen's method may not completely eliminate the need for animal testing, as few as 5% of the animals used today will need to be sacrificed in future tests, he predicts.

"It's a matter of proportion. Our tools spare an enormous number of lives," Prof. Gefen says. He is currently bringing together a number of discrete research directions from the separate fields of mechanics, tissue engineering and biology. He is also developing a new tool for researchers to investigate fat accumulation in cells (an important question for diabetes researchers) and weight loss drugs. Among his devices is one that can tell doctors how much mechanical stress is being placed on a person's foot, buttocks or other soft tissues. Another measures how much sensation is left in a diabetic limb. For all these approaches, Prof. Gefen has adopted tissue engineering methods to use fewer animals in his trials.

"We are now able to build a number of 'simplified' living tissues quite readily, and we're able to keep them 'alive,'" Prof. Gefen says. "They're genetically similar to the biological tissue of the animal, so we can factor out irrelevant physiological elements such as bleeding and pain response in an experiment. The fact that this tissue is genetically identical and the environmental factors are so well-controlled means that we can obtain far more experimental reproducibility than with experiments done on live animals."

In the future, Prof. Gefen hopes that similar models can be based on live human tissue, but that could be a number of years down the road.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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