For many who challenge the brain function theory that animal testing is essential, the way forward is by the development and practice of technology such as cell culture, computer modelling, proteomics, micro dosing and brain research.
Brain function, cell culture which began as a simple concept, has developed and evolved to a remarkable level. In the mid 90s when the techniques were compared to those of animal tests, accuracy was found to be in the cell culture results as opposed to the outcome of the animal tests. Since this time, cell culture has increased and has been used to develop a screening project for the identification of drugs to treat the many forms of cancer. In addition, it has been recognised that the cell culture trials of these drugs are faster and more effective than the animal testing methods.
Cell culture has seem a breakthrough in many areas, one being Parkinson’s disease enabling the extent of damage to be observed.
Computer modelling is another area which has developed enabling human organs to be observed and display the reactions on the human body to drugs being used to treat different illnesses. It has also been used to identify drugs that are potentially dangerous.
Further progress is being made into the effects of drugs in babies and children, an area which has always being extremely questionable.
Cancer is another disease that is benefiting from this type of technology as it is able to accurately specify drugs that can be used to provide more effective results.
The development of proteomics has been based on the analysis of the different cell types in living systems. By understanding the different cell types, this provides the key to how disease attacks the different organs of the body. Studies comprise of the world of proteins and the way they work in the operation of normal cells, how they are controlled and the changes that occur when illness strikes. There is no doubt that proteins are the core to our understanding of cellular function and the various processes that can be inflicted when disease results. The presence of this program is a necessity to understand the many complexities of diseases like cancer.
Micro dosing which is a more recent development places the experimental studies in the hands of human volunteers. This is carried out by a minimal amount of drug dose that is too small to result in an adverse reaction or pharmacological effect which can detect substances in plasma and blood with concentrations in the pg/ml classification. This method has the capability to detect a liquid compound even after one litre has dissolved in an immeasurable supply of water.
Brain research is based upon the detection of high and low magnetic susceptibilities in the blood which can identify when blood is newly oxygenated. This technique is known as functional magnetic resonance imaging and is a crucial diagnostic tool which assists surgery too.
Magneto Encephalography can provide a functional image of the human brain depicting brain activity and where it originates from. This information is particularly beneficial to the investigation of medical conditions like migraine and epilepsy.
Another means of analysing brain activity is by using electrical impedance tomography which is able to register electrical resistance in areas that are disease affected. The chief advantage of this test is to locate blood movement as well as other fluids.
Scans undertaken by positron emission tomography enable detection of radiation from positrons which shows an intricate picture of an illness and the way is has developed. Without doubt this is of considerable advantage for patients who have a form of brain dysfunction for which the reason has not been established.
SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) has the ability to produce 3D images of the brain by revealing information concerning the blood flow. This method also provides data on the function of the brain which is essential for the detection of illness.
With the assistance of extremely powerful microscopes, examination of human tissue is able to be carried out providing invaluable research. This is a vital step as it means that animal research can be superseded.
To conclude there is no doubt that with the advancement of scientific technology, the more options are being discovered in the struggle to provide humane methods of medical research.