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Drug Tests on Live Animals to Be Replaced By Artificial Intelligence

The development of artificial intelligence technologies may prove as a promising replacement for live animals in laboratory drug testing.

A new study published in the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences states that predictive drug tests on live animals may soon be replaced by equally reliable artificial intelligence technology. Testing new drugs in lab mice enables scientists to accurately predict how drugs might interact with living cells in the human body. With the new artificial intelligence system, computers will be able to accurately and reliably predict the toxicity of tens of thousands of unknown chemicals based on previous animal tests.

Save the Bunnies!

Animal rights advocates have been fighting for decades to put an end to drug testing on live animals, and through they haven’t had much success thus far, the new development may soon give them a reason to smile, saving millions of lab hours, money and cute mice in the process. A win-win situation for numerous pharmaceutical companies, the application of artificial intelligence is a promising solution to drug discovery and testing.

From a Professional Standpoint…

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, noted that artificial intelligence is always able to yield improved designs and better decisions when it comes to knowing what compounds to produce and test for in living animal cells. He added that the new technology may lead to fewer experiments, thereby saving time and money in the long-run. Hopkins explained that the complexity of biology is a key factor why people within the industry don’t see the use of artificial intelligence as feasible, but he states that “it’s precisely because of the complexity of the decision-making that we should use AI.”

A team led by Thomas Hartung, MD, a toxicologist at Johns Hopkins University, ran research to predict drug properties without live animals. Hartung says that using computer models is a better approach than subjecting millions of animals to safety studies each year. Some of these standard safety studies include testing eye drops on rabbits to determine irritability, or feeding chemicals to mice in gradual amounts to evaluate toxicity levels.

Room for Growth

Computer modeling and artificial intelligence may appear as an inevitable replacement for live animal testing in the lab, but it still has a long way to go when it comes to testing for compound effects on fertility and cancer, among others. However, using artificial intelligence in the drug industry has achieved long strides that wouldn’t have been possible without the initial input of animal testing. The toxicity for tens of thousands of chemicals can now be reliably predicted with new technology to the delight of both the pharmaceutical industry and animal rights activists.


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