September 6th 2021


EARA News Digest 2021 - Week 36

Welcome to your Monday morning update, from EARA, on the latest news in biomedical science, policy and openness on animal research. 

Organoid technology showcased at global conference

The 11th World Congress on Alternatives to Animal Testing concluded last week, under the theme 3Rs in Transition: From development to application.

Amongst the topics discussed were advances in organoid and organ-on-a-chip technology in infectious disease, neuroscience and cardiovascular systems.

Dr Adithya Sridhar, of Amsterdam University Medical Centres, shared work on how organoid models can be developed to study viruses that currently have no suitable animal model, as part of a European collaboration on virus research called GutVibrations.

Dr Blake Anson, of Stemonix, USA, showed how a 3D neural organoid model is being used for early screening of drug candidates to ‘direct experiments and reduce the number of animals needed in drug discovery, but not replace them completely’.

In the same session, Tatsuya Shimizu, of Tokyo Women's Medical University, discussed work on an organoid model of the heart, containing beating heart cells which can be used to study how the cells react to different forces.

EARA member Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Netherlands, also shared its work using organ-on-a-chip technology to find the correct conditions for studying one cell type in the brain, in response to problems that arose when comparing in vitro and in vivo methods.



‘Game changing’ cholesterol jab approved for patients 

A new type of injection to lower cholesterol in the blood has now been approved for use both by the EU and UK. 

EARA member, Novartis, Switzerland, has received approval for inclisiran, a jab that reduces ‘bad fat’ in people with high risk of heart disease. 

In studies with mice and monkeys, the drug was shown to turn off a gene called PCSK9 which helped the liver remove harmful cholesterol from the blood and break it down. 

"Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes,” said Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive of the UK’s standards body NICE



Face-to-face EARA event in Italy

EARA will hold a face-to-face science communication event in Italy this month, in collaboration with the advocacy group Research4Life.
As the global conversation on increased transparency in animal research continues, the event invites lab staff, communications teams and politicians to hear how the life science community in Italy can become more open about animal research, including creating a transparency agreement for the country.
The panel of experts includes Kirk Leech, EARA; Prof. Annalisa Bucchi and Prof. Monica Di Luca, University of Milan; Prof. Simone Pollo, Sapienza Università di Roma; and Dr Fabio Turone, Center for Ethics in Science and Journalism, who will share their experiences.
Improving Openness in Animal Research in Italy, supported by the FENS and SfN is on Friday 17 September, 14:00-17:30 CEST, at Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
The free event will also be streamed online.



A step forward to treat kidney disease using mice 

Researchers at EARA member the University of Padua, Italy, have found a potential target for the early treatment of kidney inflammation caused by lupus.  

Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. One of the most severe forms of this condition is lupus nephritis, a type of kidney disease that could lead to kidney failure.  

To understand the role of Pentraxin3 (PTX3) – a molecule known to be unbalanced in human lupus - the team observed that mice immunised with PTX3 developed a protective immunity, preventing them from developing lupus nephritis.  

“Animal research allows us to make crucial advances when dealing with rarer conditions in which targeted treatments - instead of lifelong dependence on drugs - are paramount for a better outcome in terms of both survival and the quality of life of our patients,” said Mariele Gatto of University of Padua.  

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