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The HSUS Welcomes the National Institutes of Health Grant Program Focused on Replacing Animal Use in Drug Development

  • Beagles are often used in drug testing. iStockphoto.com

The Humane Society of the United States congratulates the 17 awardees of the first grants from the interagency collaboration between the National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The grants will be used to create 3-D tissues that accurately model the structure and function of human organs, such as the lung, liver and heart to better predict the safety of potential drugs in a faster, more cost-effective way than current animal tests.  According to the FDA, 92 percent of drugs fail in clinical trials due to unforeseen toxicity or lack of efficacy, despite extensive testing in animals.

The 17 award recipients will focus on the development of several different types of artificial tissues made from human cells. In addition, some of the awardees will use these artificial tissues to target specific health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, degenerative arthritis and gastrointenstinal disease. NIH plans to commit up to $70 million over five years for the program, subject to funding availability.

“This level of support for artificial human tissues is a watershed moment for the replacement of animals in testing and The Humane Society of the United States applauds the National Institutes of Health for its leadership in this endeavor,” says Andrew Rowan, HSUS chief scientific officer. “The magnitude of this collaboration will go a long way not only toward improving predictivity and efficiency of drug development, but also in replacing the use of animals in testing—a win for drug companies, for the public, and for animals.”  

For a description of the 17 award recipients and projects, visit the NCATS website here.


  • In 2011, the NIH along with DARPA and the FDA announced a collaboration to develop a chip to screen for safe and effective drugs more quickly and efficiently than current methods. 
  • In the fall of 2011, NIH issued two requests for applications and awards were announced on July 24, 2012.
  • Of the 17 awards, ten are for the development of bio-engineered tissues similar to complex human tissues and seven will explore the potential of stem and progenitor cells to differentiate into multiple cell types representative of different organ systems.

Media Contact: Niki Ianni: 240-753-4874, nianni@humanesociety.org

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