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Laboratory Test Could Replace Animal Research on Inflammation

Feb 26, 2003
By Jane Burgermeister
Reuters Health

German researchers have developed a new way to test whether a substance causes an inflammatory reaction, which they believe could reduce the need for animal testing by more than 25%.

Designed by Drs. Karen Nieber and Sunna Hauschildt, from the University of Leipzig, the test uses cultured human monocytes in vitro. Dr. Nieber's group calibrated the test by measuring cytokines, including tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin 1 and 6, released by the cells in response to well-known immunogenic substances.

"We can use the technique to see if a new substance has an inflammatory potential or if it has an anti-inflammatory effect," Dr. Nieber told Reuters Health on Wednesday. "With our method of using monocytes taken from human blood, we can reduce the number of animals needed for all drug experiments."

She estimates that the new method could cut the number of animals that die in medical experiments in Germany, currently around two million each year, by between a quarter to a half. "Certainly no more animals will have to die in research on inflammatory properties," she added.

The team plans to publish its research later this year.

© 2003 Reuters Ltd