“As we have learned more and more about the mechanisms of toxicity and drug mechanisms, we’ve come to appreciate how different… people are from animals, and it makes us realize why drugs still fail 30% of the time for safety in people,” says Dr. Ellen Berg, reflecting on the current state and usefulness of animal-based drug testing. For many years, product developers and the pharmaceutical industry has relied upon the assumption that what’s toxic to non-human animals is more likely to be toxic to human animals; while this is true, it is not the best we can do, it does not account for the growing number of differences being identified between the animal model and human being, and it comes at a price.
As the founder of Alto Predict, it is Dr. Ellen Berg’s goal to introduce alternative approaches to product safety testing that remove the animal model and replaces it with human in vitro technologies, such as organs-on-chips, organoids, bioprinted tissues, and stem cell-based assays. She explains that despite many innovative advances in these methods over the past decade, there’s been a significant lag in adoption by product developers. Why? According to Dr. Berg, the answer is multi-fold, but one of the primary reasons is because validation data showing predictivity of the assays is either limited or simply hard to access. This means that those who critically need this data in order to feel confident in moving forward with adoption of these technologies simply don’t have it, and don’t have an easy way to obtain it. The same type of problem exists with animal testing data but for different reasons: “A lot of in vivo animal data is in silos within pharmaceutical or consumer products companies and nobody has access to it, so…the lack of predictivity of animal testing has been hidden,” explains Dr. Berg.
Alto Predict is addressing this problem by building a platform that provides easy access to human in vitro technology validation data, alongside specialized analytics and data visualization tools as a way to bring business intelligence analysis to complicated scientific data. Having spent the last 15 years developing this platform, Dr. Berg has discovered many novel mechanisms of toxicity that are contributing to the safer selection of molecules with assay predictivity.
The team at Alto Predict is currently working on the beta version of the platform and have already partnered with Collaborative Drug Discovery to showcase various in vitro assays relevant to cardiovascular toxicity. Tune in and visit altopredict.com to learn more.