If scientists could no longer experiment on nonhuman primates, such as chimpanzees, macaques, and baboons, what would happen to all the research on drugs and other treatments?
Many researchers and universities have embraced an ongoing reduction in animal research. This is guided by a set of principles outlined more than 50 years ago. There are attempts to create models of human tissues or organs using either human cells or computer simulations — an area that has much ongoing research right now.
Other scientists are working on three-dimensional mini-organs, including an artificial nose for testing the toxicity of inhaled particles, a mini-lung for studying the effects of air pollution, and mini-brains to model larger-than-chip human brains.
Before these alternatives can be used in the real world, researchers will need to test them against animal experiments to show that they’re reliable. If they work, though, they may not only save animals’ lives. They could also be faster, cheaper, and more personalized than current research methods.