The National Applied Research Laboratories yesterday said its National Laboratory Animal Center has begun using a new technology that can shorten the time needed for genetic animal testing experiments and also reduces the number of laboratory animals used in experiments.
The center has introduced CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, CRISPR-associated genes) technology, supplemented by a rat embryo microinjection method, and is now capable of reducing animal testing time to one-tenth of the original time needed per experiment.
The number of animals needed per experiment has also been reduced by between 25 percent and 30 percent.
Tsai Shih-Jei (蔡世傑), an assistant researcher at the center, said that from the initial stages of research and development and conducting experiments, doing clinical testing and getting approval for clinical use, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years before a new drug is introduced in the market.
During this period, reproducing genetically modified laboratory mice are used for testing for about two to three years.
He said that previous testing methods were limited to genetically modified laboratory mice only, but by combining the new technologies, the center can now reproduce genetically modified mice or rats in six weeks.
It used to take two to three years for a research team to ascertain whether a tested drug is effective, often putting a heavy financial burden on the team, the center said.
It added that the new technology could help them get test results in about one-tenth of the original time and at one-fifth of the original cost, which would be of tremendous benefit to drug developing facilities and companies alike.
The center has reproduced rats with hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia for testing drugs aimed at treating cardiovascular diseases, it said, adding that hopefully the technology can be further developed to be used on other laboratory animals, including pigs, dogs and monkeys.