Saxony: Cancer drugs: Researchers want to reduce animal experiments

Dresden (dpa / sn) - Dresden scientists want to reduce the number of animal experiments in research for so-called radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer.

Saxony: Cancer drugs: Researchers want to reduce animal experiments

Dresden (dpa / sn) - Dresden scientists want to reduce the number of animal experiments in research for so-called radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer. The Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden announced on Monday that initial tests with so-called multi-organ chips would show positive results. Researchers from the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf are also involved in the project. The IWS has been working on such mini laboratories for ten years. With the systems in the format of a tablet box, organ functions or even disease processes can be artificially represented with the help of cell cultures.

"Valves and channels simulate the vascular system, and a small pump simulates the heartbeat. The microphysiological systems are made from layers of plastic film. Blood vessels and chambers are cut into these using a laser," explained the IWS. Cell cultures that could survive in the microsystems for up to a month would later be created in these modules.

Radiopharmaceuticals are used in medicine when neither chemotherapy, surgery nor external radiation help against a tumour. The radioactive drugs not only track down cancer cells, but also enable targeted irradiation from the inside, it said. However, before such substances can be used in humans, extensive animal experiments have been necessary during their development.

The IWS referred to figures from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, according to which a total of 1.86 million vertebrates and cephalopods were used for research purposes in Germany in 2021. Compared to the previous year, that was two percent less, but still a lot. Mice, fish and rats are used the most in German laboratories. Many research tasks can currently only be solved with the help of such animal experiments. That is why it is important to look for alternative options.

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