We’re Getting Closer Than Ever to Replacing Animal Testing With Computer chips

Before releasing a drug for the medical use of humans, it has to undergo certain tests and at times these rigorous tests often involve animals. The conduction of such tests is important so as to confirm it is safe.

But now the government of US is now pressurizing the researchers to find out the humane options to animal experimentation which is sort of extremely effective robots or excellent computer algorithms.

The best-sorted option is to replace the animal models with a ‘human body on a chip’ and which is something that has the possible way not just to unite the utility of animal testing but actually, beat it. And scientists are nearer than ever to really building one.

One such effort of developing organ-mimicking computer chips has been recently led by bioengineer Linda Griffith from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The simulation of the complexities of our body is not an easy thing to accomplish, hence progress in the software and electronic ways has led it closer than ever to getting it correct.

These organs-on-chips are apparent to the first surface in scenarios where animal experiment doesn’t quite give the results needed or expected by the scientists.

Consider immunotherapy cancer therapies, for example. They’re intended to aim particular proteins on human immune cells, like establishing collectively two pieces of a jigsaw, and examinations on animals or even on human cells in a petri dish are inadequate replacements.


Big Data for Cells

Modern cell biology is largely dependent on the observation of cells. Since standard methods allow observations for a limited time, scientists have finally developed a program capable of observing cells for a long time while also analyzing molecular properties simultaneously. The software is free to use and can be downloaded by anyone.

The process of time-lapse microscopy is not easy. First problem faced is to take enough images in order to not lose track of cells and second problem faced is the enormous data the images occupy. Sometimes a million images are captured. This idea emerged out of this problem, since big data would be able to help.

Schroeder, a scientist from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen conducted the research himself and had been investigating the dynamics of stem cells for quite some time now. So he knew what the program was all about. The program was put together through 2 packages, a manual tracking tools and semi-automatic quantification tool or the cell to be analyzed via time lapse microscopy. Both of them working together allow for measuring of properties such as length of the cell cycle, the dynamics of certain proteins and correlation of these properties with other sister cells.

Scientists around the world can use this since it would be available to all free of cost. The program can be downloaded through this link: http://www.bsse.ethz.ch/csd/software/ttt-and-qtfy.html

The program is easy to use and doesn’t require much IT experience which would make it easier for scientists and which would make it user friendly to almost anyone.


A study involving big data analysis reveals the role and the extent to which viruses impact the evolution of humans and other mammals. It had long been recognized that the persistent war between the pathogen and the host plays a major role in the process of evolution but the role of viruses remained unexposed till now.

The findings of the study indicate that viruses are accountable for astounding 30 percent of all the protein adaptations in humans since divergence with chimpanzees.

The occurrence of an epidemic or pandemic during the course of evolution assists the target population to adapt to the virus and the unfit population goes extinct. According to David Enard, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, the strength and the clarity of pattern of impact of viruses on evolution is extremely surprising.

“We’re learning which parts of the cell have been used to fight viruses in the past, presumably without detrimental effects on the organism,” said the study’s senior author, Dmitri Petrov, Ph.D., Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of Biology and Associate Chair of the Biology Department at Stanford. “That should give us an insight on the pressure points and help us find proteins to investigate for new therapies.’’

The logic behind such a critical role of viruses in evolution is that viruses takes control of nearly all the functions of the host in order to spread and replicate.

The result of the research tries to settle some of our inquisitions and curiosity about how we and other organisms have evolved.

New Blood Test Determines the Type of Antibiotics Required

A recent research reports that a simple blood test would now be able to differentiate between a viral and a bacterial infection. This would help doctors a lot since a patient cannot be given antibiotics for bacterial infection if he has a viral one.

These days, doctors find it mystifying to presume whether it is a bacteria or a virus which is making a person sick. Most of the time, the symptoms look exactly the same. Researchers recently put forward that our immune system responds differently to viral and bacterial infections and used this to develop a blood based test. The test functions by using the activity of genes in a body. The genes produce molecules which are used by the immune system to respond to the infection. These genes are exposed at different levels depending upon the type of infection and this is what can be measured in the blood test.

The researchers conducted the test using blood samples from 96 children with sepsis which is a response of the immune system to an infection that causes body wide inflammation. This was performed to check the accuracy of the test. It was validated that 90 percent of the children were correctly identified as having sepsis caused by bacteria and 55 percent of the children having sepsis caused by virus.

This is certainly a breakthrough in modern day testing as it is becoming increasingly difficult to prescribe antibiotics due to the escalation in number of cases. Accuracy is what this test promises and showcases commitment.

Another Epigenetic Mark Spotted in Mammals

In recent research done by the scientists from the Yale University, another epigenetic mark in the mammalian adenosine which can convey methylation marks has been found. Prior to this disclosure the epigenetic imprint was known just in form of methylation of cytosine.

Methylation of adenine framing N6-methyladenine was known for quite a while to exist in the bacterial genomes and in some of the recent researches it was also found in some insects, worms and plants. Be that as it may, a year ago couple of scientists found the confirmation of these imprints in human and mouse cells. In the late research by Andrew Xiao and his partners from Yale University affirmed this confirmation by recognizing the N6-methyladenine in the mouse stem cells.

His group was successful in distinguishing the chemical “Alkbh1” which is involved in the removal of adenine methylation. Deficiency of this enzyme results in an increased level of N6-methyladenine which leads to transcriptional silencing. Along with this, the scientists also found that the methylation likewise corresponds to the quieting of the transposon component LINE-1 in opposition to the prior studies which demonstrated that adenine methylation helps in activation of nearby genes. In a meeting with C&EN Xiao said that, “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out this difference,” and further added that, “We need to do a lot more research before we can connect all the dots.”