Page last updated at 01:19 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 02:19 UK

Cancer project could limit need for animal testing

tablets generic
The study will look at developmental cancer drugs

A project to improve the effectiveness of tests into cancer treatments could limit the need for animal testing, researchers have claimed.

Scientists at the University of Dundee, who will lead the £10m Europe-wide project, said it may also boost safety for those involved in clinical trials.

They want to isolate at an earlier stage those drugs most likely to produce cancerous effects themselves.

Doing so could cut the amount of time and money spent on ineffective drugs.

Researchers said that one of the key drivers behind the plan was the "3 R" issue - the reduction, refinement and replacement of experimental animal use.

The study, known as the MARCAR project and involving 12 organisations from business and academia, will explore the use of non-invasive imaging techniques such as MRI scanning to study the effects of developmental treatments.

Predictions regarding safety of drug compounds can be imprecise and sometimes incorrect
Prof Roland Wolf

As such techniques are non-invasive, long-term studies can be carried out on the same animal over weeks or months.

The method also has the potential to detect pre-cancerous lesions and tumours sooner without sacrificing the animals, meaning smaller numbers of subjects could be used.

Prof Roland Wolf, from the university's biomedical research institute, said: "This would potentially markedly reduce the numbers of animals needed for this kind of research and provide a much more reliable prediction of the rates of toxicity of drugs in development in man."

'Improved safety'

The researchers will focus on a group of drugs known as non-genotoxic carcinogens (NGCs).

These are drugs which when tested are shown to promote biochemical processes which lead to cancer.

At present such potential cancer-causing compounds only tend to be identified following prolonged biological trials.

Prof Wolf said the research would also improve safety for those taking part in drug trials.

He added: "The development of new drugs is a very costly process, partly because of the large number of drugs which never make it to market due to the discovery of cancerous effects during drug development.

"Predictions regarding safety of drug compounds can be imprecise and sometimes incorrect.

"If we could make better predictions at an early stage of drug development it would save a lot of time and money and make the whole process more efficient.

"To achieve that we need to identify early biological indicators, known as 'biomarkers', that can be used to predict the effects of drugs and reliably and robustly predict later cancer developments."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Key cancer gene 'link to poverty'
16 Feb 10 |  Health
Cancer protection secret revealed
01 Feb 09 |  Health
'Chemo' gene helps cancer thrive
18 May 07 |  Health
Anti-cancer gene shield discovery
05 May 08 |  Health

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific