Synthetic drug-test tissue eliminates need for animals

Researchers at Reading University’s School of Pharmacy have developed a synthetic tissue that can be used to assess the quality of drugs under laboratory development, replacing the need to use animal tissue.

Conventionally, tablets are given orally to patients for treating various diseases. These drugs pass through the patient’s digestive system, which breaks down the drug into its constituting components while the rest of the compound is flushed out of the body. Consequently, only a small percentage of the medicine enters the patient’s circulatory system, limiting the drug’s effectiveness.

However, tablets that can attach to mucosal tissue — such as that found in the mouth and stomach — extend the time the drugs remain in the body, reducing the frequency of dosing, and also offer the possibility of targeting particular body sites. Common conditions treated by mucoadhesive drugs include angina and inflammatory diseases.

According to Dr Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy from Reading, mucosal tissues taken from animals are currently used by the pharmaceutical industry in the development of drugs to test the time that tablets are in contact with the mouth’s mucosal lining. But the use of animal tissues in such adhesion experiments does not always produce the best results because of their variable properties.

The new synthetic tissue is a hydrogel that mimics the properties of mucosal tissues and could eliminate the need to take tissue from animals.

’The new synthetic hydrogels mimicked the porcine mucosal tissues that we used better than any other material we tested — and could prove a real alternative to using animal material for testing the mucoadhesive properties of future medicines,’ said Khutoryanskiy.