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Drug testing: human liver cells help detecting embryotoxicity

This «body-on-a-chip» could reduce unnecessary animal testing. | Julia Boos / ETH Zürich)

The safety of embryos and pregnant women is of special concern when medical substances need to be approved. Since animal testing is required by law before licensing drugs, toxicity is most commonly tested on gravid rabbits and other rodents. A new method developed by ETHZ could reduce redundant animal testing in early research phases.

Why this is important. The increasing consumption of pharmaceuticals products can result in serious birth defects in newborns. But early stages of drug safety research are characterized by trial and error. Moreover, animal testing is not only ethically disputed, but also expensive and time-consuming.

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