Disc-on-a-chip could revolutionize treatment for back pain

Chronic low back pain is a widespread problem that is difficult to treat. But rather than resort to outdated and confounded animal experiments, a team of researchers at the University of Sydney have developed a sophisticated disc-on-a-chip to replicate human disc pathophysiology. Using this model offers scientists the possibility to not only derive new treatments but to regenerate damaged discs.

In other news, AI-driven digital engineering company, Quantiphi, has introduced its Digital Animal Replacement Technology (DART) to provide a humane, accurate alternative to animal testing for drug discovery, manufacturing, and pre-clinical trials.

Company executive, Bruno Nardone, told CAARE, “We really believe that this is a great time to leverage this leading-edge technology and dramatically reduce the need for animal testing across key phases of product development.”

And using human blood samples, scientists have revealed new insights into fragile X syndrome, which they acknowledge would not have been possible through experiments on mice.


Disc-On-Chip Model Could Be Gamechanger For Low Back Pain Studies


A team of scientists at the University of Technology Sydney led by Javad Tavakoli, Ph.D. have created the world’s first disc-on-a-chip organ model that can be used to study low back pain. 

Traditional models, such as animal discs, don’t fully recapitulate human discs and raise serious ethical concerns. The disc-on-a-chip is a microfluidic platform derived from human cells that is combined with precision additive manufacturing and two-photon polymerization technology that allows it to closely mimic actual human discs in function, cell morphology, and stiffness gradients. 

Utilizing human-relevant methods like the disc-on-a-chip will allow researchers to make advancements into human health and disease research that is not possible with inapplicable animal studies.


Quantiphi reveals non-animal testing technology


Artificial-intelligence company Quantiphi recently launched the Digital Animal Replacement Technology (DART) which combines human stem cells, a digital workstation, and artificial intelligence to accurately predict drug safety without the ethical and scientific problems of animal studies.

Global Leader in Healthcare and Life Science at Quantiphi, Bruno Nardone, says of its advantages over animal testing: “It enables early-stage decision-making, reduces cost, improves time-to-market, and it offers advantages like accelerated testing, customization based on genetic profiles, and relevance to human physiology.”

Now that Congress has passed the FDA Modernization Act, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have a greater motivation and opportunity to advance non-animal drug testing methods. 



Antisense therapy restores fragile X protein production in human cells


A new study led by scientists at UMass Chan Medical School developed unique insights into fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that affects boys more than girls and results in intellectual disability and behavioral difficulties.

Scientists analyzed blood samples from males with fragile X and found unique defects in the mRNAs produced. Dr. Joel D. Richter, co-author of the study, states “"We never would have found this using a mouse model of fragile X. The mouse model is a gene knockout. Because it simply doesn't have the fragile X gene, there is no mRNA that is made. The FMR1 mRNA mis-splicing is a gene regulation mechanism that depends on the CGG expansion, which may be unique to human and primates. We only discovered this mis-splicing because we were working in human cells." 

This discovery, that was only possible through the use of human-based methods, could lead to treatments for this currently incurable disease.


Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experiments (CAARE), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established to highlight and promote research without animals.

Your donation helps us carry out our mission to speak up for animals in laboratories, and to end animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.

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  • Barbara Stagno
    published this page in Newsletters 2023-07-20 13:05:59 -0400