Will chemosynthetic livers become the new lab rat?

labratFor several years, medical sciences tested new pharmaceutical drugs on laboratory animals, such as rats and other rodents. All the while, animal activists have been searching for a way to end this treatment. Have their prayers finally been answered? Researchers at Empiriko found an innovation that replaces the animal’s liver and acts as a human liver.  The liver is the main organ that drugs get distributed to in the human body. If the liver does not break down a medicine properly, then toxic effects can take over the body. In order to be able to test medications on humans, the drug needs to go through a process called metabolic profiling. Metabolic profiling allows scientist to see how the liver breaks down the pharmaceutical drug. After the drug is broken down, the researchers must identify any “leftovers” in the body. Metabolites, or the “leftovers,” are usually what causes side effects that ruin medicines. So in order to perform such experiments, the chemosynthetic liver comes to play. The chemosynthetic liver acts as a group of enzymes that are found in your liver. For metabolic processing to be possible, the chemosynthetic liver is mixed with drug compounds in a test tube. This allows scientist to watch as the drug is being disintegrated and how the liver reacts. The chemosynthetic liver also acts as a medium, because it speeds up the decomposition process. With this method, scientists are able to gain results quickly; unlike they would on an animal study.

Technology came into the picture just in time. In 2010, animal testing of cosmetic products has been banned by the European Union following regulations called REACH. The same act hopes to put a ban to animal testing of pharmaceutical drugs in the near future, as well. The chemosynthetic liver has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration just yet. However, the chemosynthetic liver has tested over 50 drugs and accurately imitated how the drugs were processed through the human body. Although this discovery may not completely end animal testing, here’s to high hopes for the future of technology.


Osborne, Hannah. “Chemosynthetic Livers: an End to Animal Testing in Pharmaceutical Industry?” International Business Times. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/chemosynthetic-livers-end-animal-testing-pharmaceutical-industry-1440823