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CSIRO spots fringe benefits of reducing animal use in research

Image: xiaoyun wu, via Pixabay

Non-animal models could become a billion-dollar industry in Australia, report says

Australia could put itself at the forefront of a boom in non-animal models for scientific research, a report has said.

The report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Futures unit says that global trends mean the world market for non-animal testing will grow at more than 10 per cent annually until at least 2025.

Australia’s strong foundations, such as the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and its recognised skills, put it in a good position to move into the area, the unit says.

Non-animal research models will also “be critical to protect and further strengthen Australia’s A$1.4 billion clinical trials sector”.

Digital and in vitro

Models include both digital and in vitro alternatives to using live animals. One in vitro technique, known as organoids, where cell cultures replace organs, could return A$1.28bn a year in revenue by 2040, the report says.

Meanwhile, the use of live animals is expected to drop at all stages of the research process.

The report says that Australia needs “a national consortium” to coordinate and promote capability in non-animal models. Commercial skills need to be enhanced across all those creating non-animal models, and biomedical research infrastructure should be upgraded.

Researchers should focus on key areas, including extending the capabilities of in vitro models “for a closer recreation of human physiology across healthy and diseased states”.

The unit consulted 66 research, industry and government organisations when writing the report. The document includes an institute-by-institute survey of capability, as well as an analysis of how much animal use, money and time could be saved by various non-animal models.