Could Fresh Human Tissues Play a Key Role in Drug Development?
Chris Hillier and David Bunton
Biopta was founded in 2002, to provide human tissue-based drug development and testing services to the pharmaceutical industry. Although animal tissues are readily available and are relatively inexpensive, they frequently fail to faithfully predict the results seen in the clinic. Human tissues can provide integrated responses to test drugs in a manner more representative than individual cell types or cell lines alone, and more-directly relevant to the species of interest — Homo sapiens. In order to expand the use of human tissues, however, an improved infrastructure for the collection and distribution of fresh, functional tissues is highly desirable. Moreover, where there is the potential to obtain tissue from various locations, it becomes possible to test tissue that is specific to the site of drug activity. This is important, as differences may occur between the same tissue types in different locations in the body. The detection of adverse effects is greatly helped by knowledge of how existing drugs behave in the human body. These drugs can act as reference compounds, so that new compounds can then be compared, by using standard concentration– response type studies, in a huge variety of tissues, and their effects extrapolated from what is known of the reference compounds.