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Could This New Company Put Animal Laboratories Out of Business?

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post | August 1, 2014

This week, we’re cheering the launch of a startup company that is revolutionizing the drug-development process and could save the lives of countless animals: Emulate, which began in Harvard University’s cutting-edge Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, creates advanced microchips that use real human cells and tissues to construct fully functioning postage stamp–size organs that allow researchers to study diseases and also develop and test new drugs to treat them. This technology can be used to test the toxicity of chemicals, nanomaterials, and other substances and could eventually replace the use of animals for such tests. Check out this video of Emulate’s microchips in action.

The company’s lung chip has already been shown to replicate human physiology, diseases, and drug responses more accurately than crude experiments on dogs and other animals do. Emulate eventually hopes to link multiple chips together to represent each of the human body’s organs so that researchers can study how drugs affect the body as a whole. “We can get a much greater insight into human biology with that; it’s going to be very exciting,” says Emulate Chief Executive Officer James Coon.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that every new drug be tested on animals, including rats, rabbits, dogs, and primates, before it moves on to human trials. Not only are these animal tests cruel, they also often produce inaccurate or dangerously misleading results because other species process and react to drugs differently from humans. That’s why a whopping 92 out of every 100 drugs that pass animal trials fail during human clinical trials.

Advanced drug-testing technologies such as Emulate’s have the potential to replace cruel and inaccurate animal testing and to speed up the drug-development process dramatically, all while yielding more accurate results. Emulate’s technology can also be used to test cosmetics and chemicals as well as to predict how individual patients will react to certain drugs by exposing some of their cells to the substance in order to test for a reaction. According to Roger Kamm, a professor of biological and mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “This is going to revolutionize how pharmaceutical companies screen for drugs.”

Emulate’s brilliant invention is further proof that we don’t need to harm animals in order to advance human health.

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  • Carolann Barlas says:

    I hope this is successful and brings an end to crudo animal experiments

  • pusheen says:

    hmm.. wasnt it the FDA who also said that over 90% of the potential medications/vaccines tested on animals fail in helping humans?.. and they require all meds to be tested on animals.. doesnt make sense..

  • Claire Nel says:

    Bravo Emulate.

  • Marissa says:

    I’ve heard about this. I’m super excited about this. It would make sense for businesses, government, universities, and any other place that tests on animals to switch to this. It saves them time and money when that fails. I just read an article last week about something like this on vitamins. The testing failed when it got to the human stage. And the answer they had given to why it failed was because “it was based on a rat’s system not a human’s”. You don’t say. Hopefully they learn animal testing gets you no where and that testing on human cells saves you years of animal testing and money.

  • Jeanne Jacobowitz says:

    This is a wish come true except I am concerned that it will not materialize soon enough. Hopefully, there are no SNAFU’S. I am so excited I could just cry. Thank you PETA.

  • Jeanie says:

    Be sure your sin will find you out! What you do to these animals will happen to you!

  • Torah says:

    HONESTLY, WHAT PURPOSE IS THIS SERVING EXCEPT A SELFISH GREEDY ONE. THIS SHOULD BE AGAINS THE LAW THIS ANIMAL CRUELTY.

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