Can a Digital Lab Notebook Fuel the Future of Drug Testing? New Uses for Tissue Regeneration

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digital lab notebook
Current drug development methods take lots of time, money, and resources. Does the answer to a faster, personalized process lay with tissue regeneration?
Image source: Flickr CC user Umberto Salvagnin

When we think of tissue regeneration, most people picture scientists growing hearts and livers in petri dishes. This isn’t too far off from the truth. Thanks to tissue engineering, we can do a variety of things such as heal wounds, use artificial skin to treat burn victims and even regenerate knee cartilage in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.

Even though tissue regeneration is associated with organ replacement and healing, it does have other uses. Researchers can utilize the synthesized tissues as model systems. For example, German scientists recently created a cell culture system that supports breast cells. The model allows them to study the development and spread of human mammary cells. While mammary cell regeneration occurs throughout a woman’s lifetime, the process can also lead to the development of breast cancer in some individuals. Using the cell culture system, scientists hope to understand breast oncogenesis and how the cancer cells develop aggressive traits.

Tissue models can prove useful in other areas as well. It’s not just new antibiotic development that faces a crisis. Drugs, as a whole, can take years and billions of dollars to create. Worse still, there’s no guarantee that the end result will be effective in treating human patients. In fact, most drugs fail in clinical trials. After all, humans are more complicated than cultured cells in a petri dish and our physiology is hardly identical to that of a laboratory mouse. Therein lies the dilemma. What if we’re excluding drugs that could work in humans even though they fail in traditional animal model systems?

Are Digital Lab Notebooks the Answer?

Enter tissue regeneration. Instead of relying on cell cultures and in vivo models, what if we could use living human tissues instead? If we’re concerned about a drug’s effects upon the human heart, we could test them on living heart tissue in the laboratory first. In conjunction with a digital lab notebook, the advantages for this type of drug development include:

  • Effective Use of Funds and Resources: It can cost billions of dollars spread across a decade to develop one successful drug. The bulk of those funds go toward running and managing the clinical trial stage of the R&D process. But by testing on living human tissue models first, we can eliminate potential drugs that are likely to fail on patients. Instead, we can focus on candidates with a higher chance of success, meaning that our dollars aren’t wasted.
  • Greater Number of Drugs Tested: Living tissue models mean we can also develop and test more drugs at once. The limiting factors imposed by in vivo models and clinical trials are no longer in play. With a digital lab notebook, researchers can easily manage the large sets of data generated by various experiments and assays.
  • More Patients Can Benefit: While drugs have changed many people’s lives, bringing them relief from chronic diseases, they’re effective for only a subset of the potential population. With the increased number of drugs that can be tested using tissue engineering, the more lives that can be impacted. Of course, the greater number of potential patients raises privacy concerns regarding their personal information and medical results. A digital lab notebook comes equipped with content and security controls to ensure that only individuals with the proper credentials can access it.
  • Personalized Drug Treatment: Until now, drug development was generalized for large subsets of the population. But with tissue regeneration techniques, treatment options can be tailor-made for the individual. Laboratories can create living tissue models from a patient’s cells and use those systems to develop drugs to treat their specific ailment in their body. The latter is key since medications often have unintended and inconsistent side effects throughout the population. A digital lab notebook can keep track of both the benefits and adverse effects of various drug options, allowing for the creation of individualized treatment plans for each patient.

The use of tissue engineering in drug development is still in its early stages, but the results seem promising. Living human tissue models appear to be the answer to overcoming the bottleneck that characterizes current drug development and testing. We can only hope this means better care for more patients in the years to come.

Are you interested in learning how a digital lab notebook can help your laboratory find new uses for established techniques and procedures? Visit us today to learn more about the BIOVIA Notebook.

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