The End of Animal Testing?

Micro-lungs could replace faulty animal trials with human cells.

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The End of Animal Testing?

This Mallorcan animal rights activist doesn't mince words. (Photo: Stringer Spain/Reuters)

There is a revolution happening in a bioscience lab in Cardiff University, Wales that could save thousands of animal lives. Anti-vivisection groups and other animal welfare organizations have long maintained that human models were not only more humane and ethical than animal ones, but that they tended to be safer and more accurate.

In the human rights uprising of 2011, the world has seen the ripple effect of the Arab Spring, which helped ignite the Occupy Movements in Europe and the U.S. It is time to win the same justice, awareness and compassion for the millions of animals suffering in laboratories.

Now, Walesonline reports that cell biologist Kelly BeruBe is leading a project that could mean the end of animal testing for U.K. pharmaceutical companies.

Fusing liver and lung cells to create the “micro lungs” the size of a baby’s fingernail could eventually eliminate the need for animal testing. By using human “waste tissue” culled from donated organs, the researchers hope to create “Metabo Lungs” to test drugs for respiratory diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic pulmonary disease, which are common ailments in Britain.

“By mimicking what is happening in a human lung environment, it is very clear from the tiny amount of donated tissue what could happen in a normal lung,” said Berube. “You can take 5,000 cells and re-grow that into 400 miniature lungs the size of a baby’s fingernail—about five to six millimetres in diameter.”

Berube stated that animal testing models have produced high error rates.

“Before I took over my own lab, back in 1995 or so, we used animals in tests and it was OK then to do that,” she said. But by the time the mid-2000s came around, the environment had changed and the EU started to put laws in place saying that testing on animals would be outlawed.”

She said massive pharmaceutical companies then started looking at alternatives to animals for testing.

“It is a highly emotive subject, and we are looking at ways to reduce the need for animals in my own lab,” said Berube. “It was then I began to look at medical waste tissue—when someone dies, and donates the parts, and we can buy that tissue and basically do what we want with it.”

Could this innovation in Wales signal the beginning of a massive revolution in the world of both bioscience and animal rights?

In the human rights uprising of 2011, the world has seen the ripple effect of the Arab Spring, which helped ignite the Occupy Movements in Europe and the U.S.

It is time to win the same justice, awareness and compassion for the millions of animals suffering in laboratories.