(WINDSOR, ON) – Ninety-five percent of drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials, says the executive director of a new UWindsor research centre which will look into more human-centred research methods.
Charu Chandrasekera founded UWindsor’s Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods, the first of its kind in Canada, following years of using rodents for heart disease research. After her own father suffered a heart attack she began to question the effectiveness of animal research and started a quest to bring human relevance to the forefront of biomedical discoveries.
“Despite decades of extensive research conducted at enormous expense, the rate of congruence between animal models and the human condition is at an all-time low,” said Chandrasekera.
She says there are tremendous differences in the way animals and humans regulate biological processes and CCAAM’s mandate is to use only human-based biomaterials and methods, with the goal of ultimately ending the use of experimental animals.
Through its subsidiary, the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, CCAAM will work side-by-side with regulators, primarily Health Canada, and international consortia to expedite the development, validation, and acceptance of alternative toxicity testing methods in Canada.
In conjunction with its research, dean of Science Chris Houser says he plans to create undergraduate and graduate academic programs in animal replacement science.
“CCAAM is an amazing opportunity for the University of Windsor and is a watershed moment for health research in Canada,” said Houser. “The University of Windsor will be a leader in alternatives research and validation of non-animal methods, and the associated academic programs mean we will be training the next generation of scientists and health professionals in alternatives to animal methods.”