Thursday, September 10, 2009
Moths as good as mice for drug tests
Moths, caterpillars and fruit flies could soon take the place of millions of mice used every year by scientists testing drugs, researchers said on Tuesday. The report could mean up to 80% of the mice used for testing new pharmaceutical compounds may no longer be needed. Kevin Kavanagh, a biologist from the National University of Ireland, found that neutrophils, white blood cells that form part of the mammalian immune system, and haematocytes, cells that carry out similar work in insects, react in the same way to infecting microbes. “This method of testing is quicker, as tests with insects yield results in 48 hours whereas tests with mice usually take 4 to 6 weeks. And it is much cheaper too”, he said.