New device can recognize side effects without clinical trials

GLASGOW, Scotland Scottish scientists have announced that they are developing a new way of testing experimental drugs which may limit the amount of animal/human trials needed.

A new device, the scientists say, can assess how a human cell responds to particular drugs and it records the pattern of responses, known as a signature pattern. The scientists hope to build up a huge bank of signature patterns for side-effects so that they can recognize any potential ill-effects when they test a new medicine.

The device, which they hope will be ready for use within four years, uses 1,000 sensors to “read” cells and can discover potential side effects within days, rather than through the trial-and-error of regular testing, which can take years.

The scientists said the nose could also cut the need to test on animals, as it would quickly weed out drugs which were toxic. “We hope that by being able to predict the side-effects we will be able to contribute a much better basis for making a decision on whether the drug should go forward or not,” said Professor Walter Kolch, lead researcher at the University of Glasgow.

Conversely, he said, the device will also be able to recognize the signature pattern of successful drugs, allowing researchers to use them as a basis for new, successful treatments.

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