Monthly Archives: July 2014

“Creating a new living platform to emulate human biology”


Breathing-lung-on-a-chip. Source: Wyss Institute Library

That’s what a new company in the U.S. promises. On 28 July 2014, Emulate Inc. announced the company’s launch with $12 million financing to commercialise organs-on-chips technology to “accelerate drug development, detect toxicities and advance personalized medicine”.

Over the past five years, the Wyss Center at Harvard University developed more than ten organs-on-chips (I wrote about this in June). The technology has been validated by testing existing drugs and modelling various human diseases on-chip. The chips can also be linked together by flowing liquid containing living human immune cells that simulates blood to mimic whole body physiology.

This technology will soon be available to biotech companies. According to Emulate, using the organs-on-chips will enable scientists to predict the responses of humans to medicines, chemicals and diseases more accurately than through animal testing.

Our vision is we can one day put each patient’s cells on chips that mimic the function of organs, and this will open up new ways for us to design truly personalized treatment with stem cells, based on each patient’s unique genetic profile on their own individualized Organs-on-Chips.”


Tighter rules mean Brazil is now kicking goals on animal welfare

Before the World Cup 2014 is over, Rob Buttrose and I took the opportunity to look at animal welfare in Brazil. The article below was published two days ago in the Conversation:


Zeloneto/ Wikimedia Commons

While Brazil’s footballers have failed spectacularly to live up to expectations, there are other areas where the country is quietly exceeding them. Perhaps surprisingly, Brazil’s rapidly improving animal welfare standards put several more developed countries to shame.

When we think of Brazil and animals, we might picture huge cattle herds and the resulting deforestation of the Amazon. Yet Brazil is ahead of other livestock-producing countries such as Australia, at least as far as animal welfare legislation and regulation are concerned. This is a pretty damning indictment of Australia.

Read the full article in the Conversation.

Why Australia needs to catch up on animal research transparency

Source:  Ikayama/Flickr

Source: Ikayama/Flickr

The UK government recently concluded a six-week consultation on discarding a section of its law on animal experimentation in the interest of openness. Australia doesn’t have such restrictive laws but we’re even less transparent when it comes to animal use in research.

Under the current provisions of section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), the UK Home Office cannot release confidential information – even when the provider has no objection to disclosure.

The government suggests section 24 be discarded while protecting the names of places, people, and intellectual property. Along with this attempt to become more open and transparent, it also wants to reduce the use of animals in scientific procedures.

Read the full article in the Conversation.

In the article, the link to the 2009 survey is broken. I found two other links to this survey, here and here (both are in German). For a summary of the survey findings, check out this earlier post.