Reprogrammed stem cells could reduce or even eliminate the need for animal testing, according to the scientist who first created them.
Professor Jamie Thomson, one of the scientists who first reprogrammed adult cells into IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells), told The Times that human tissue grown from IPS cells could be used to weed out poorly-performing drugs before they moved into animal trials, reducing the number needed.
'If what we are doing is successful it will dramatically reduce animal testing, and maybe towards the end of our lifespan actually eliminate it for some things', Professor Thomson said. 'I think we will have much better models for these things'.
Human tissue grown from IPS cells may also be a better model for drug safety and effectiveness than animals, The Times reports.
'I trained as a veterinary pathologist, and the correlation [between results in animal and human trials] is not that great at the end of the day', said Professor Thomson.
Professor Thomson's company, Cellular Dynamics, is already using IPS cells to grow heart cells that pharmaceutical companies can use to test drugs for safety and effectiveness.
Next year, the company will start producing cells from ethically- and genetically-diverse people so pharmaceutical companies can look for harmful side effects affecting only certain types of people.