Cultured heart-muscle cells as an alternative7 years ago
Dr. Toon van Veen (UMC Utrecht) researches the risks of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) as a side effect of new medicines. Instead of performing his experiments on animals, he uses heart-muscle cells produced from human stem cells.
New medicines must undergo a process of rigorous safety tests, including identifying and determining the risk of any side effects, before they are approved for use on humans. Laboratory animals are usually used for this type of research, but they are increasingly being replaced by alternatives.
The new method has two huge advantages: it requires no animals, and moreover, the results are more reliable when they are applied to human patients. Some medicines can cause arrhythmia in people, even though they were found to be safe in tests on animals.
This research was made possible by the Animal-free Research Fund (Fonds Proefdiervrij Onderzoek), a collaboration between the organisation Proefdiervrij, the R&D organisation ZonMw, a pharmaceutical company and the Netherlands Heart Foundation (Hartstichting).
Source, photo, and for more information (in Dutch): Proefdiervrij (offline)