A periodic list of methods, tools and people driving research and development. Our scientists present nine tools helping to advance safety assessment. (The list is not ranked.)

  1. Microsampling. A hot tool to assess drug safety and drug efficacy in animals. The benefits with respect to 3Rs and the improved translation of your animal model—improving power while decreasing numbers!
  2. QSAR models. They have been around awhile, but they are growing more sophisticated. We’re becoming more specific (focused) about where the toxicity might occur.
  3. RNA detection. Using in situ hybridization and Q-PCR, it’s being used to assess the toxicity, efficacy and biologic functions of compounds. This trend reflects the greater investigation of interfering RNA and messenger RNA.
  4. CRISPr/Cas3. The gene editing tool is allowing for faster, more efficient creation of knock-in and knock-out animals. It’s allowing human targets to be evaluated in the animal model.
  5. Molecular imaging. fMR, SPECT, PET, OCT as translational tools in drug development. One example: OCT to detect off-target toxicity with oncology and CNS drugs
  6. High throughput screening. At the molecular and cellular level it allows screening of 1000s of chemicals for environmental toxicity
  7. EEGs. In research animals it’s being applied using hardwired SQ electrodes or implantable telemetry. The EEG is critical for the evaluation of potential CNS liabilities (seizure) with compounds known to cross the blood brain barrier.
  8. Auditory Brainstem Response. Hearing, the often forgotten sense. ABR, a frequency modulated functional hearing evaluation, is a valued tool in assessing hearing loss in drug studies.
  9. Organs on a chip. It’s still very early days in the development of cell culture chips that mimic natural organ function, but down the road they might help eliminate the need for animal testing.

Contributors: Christine Copeman, Melanie Felx, Alan Hoberman, Ken Kearney, Mariline Leroy, Aurore Varela