In the 4th chapter of Rigor Mortis the author explains that it is very important for scientists to test that medicine is safe before we take it, this isn’t an easy job and there are a lot of problems with the way scientists are doing it. Before drugs are given to people, scientists have to prove they will work and are safe. It is very common for them to test on animals like mice or rats to prove that it is safe but it is not always the best option. A neurologist named Malcolm Macleod was trying to reduce brain damage caused by strokes. He explained that it is very difficult to find drugs for stroke while testing on mice because they do not experience what a human does, “It could be that experimentally induced strokes in mice are so radically different from a human stroke that there are no real lessons to learn.” (pg 74-75) Even though he has tested a lot of drugs on mice, once they are used on humans they do not work. Malcolm explained that even after scientists have found medicine that works on humans there is still a lot of factors that they have to pay attention to. In the book he explains that some information like doses is hard to change, “Drug doses for animals differ dramatically than those for people.” (pg 76) This is something I never thought about but it shows that the transition from testing on animals to humans is very difficult.
One geneticist named Ron Davis was trying to figure out why there was not much progress in treatments for deadly inflammation. He found that there was a lot of medicine that worked on mice but did not on people. This happens because we are different than mice, “When they then looked at the analogous genes in one common strain of mice, they found essentially no correlation between the genes in mice with induced inflammation compared with humans.” (pg 78)
Because testing drugs on animals is not reliable some scientists are looking for different ways to test. A company named Emulate is working on that by using new technology to recreate how organs and cells normally act in our body. Geraldine Hamilton, president of the company explained in a video posted on their website Emulatebio.com that they make small plastic chips called organ chips. These chips create the perfect environment for the cells by causing forces and blood-flow that a cell would feel in the body. Geraldine explained that this is a much better resource than testing on animals or cells in dishes, “When you put a drug into a dish, it just sits there on top of the cells. That’s not the way we get exposed to drugs. The flow through system is much more realistic.” (pg 86) Hopefully we keep advancing with new resources and have more reliable tests in the future.