Developing methods for predicting the effects of smoke-free products on humans is an area of intensive research. Biology, informatics and materials science have developed enormously over the last two decades. The three main ways of performing pre-clinical research today are in vitro, in vivo, and in silico.
In vitro methods rely on cells or tissues that grow on special dishes in the laboratory. These techniques are widely used in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries as well as academic research labs. PMI has extensive in vitro facilities at our Neuchâtel premises.
Exciting technological developments have been made to show in vitro cultures and in silico models to better mimic what happens inside living organisms. This is part of the "3R" framework to refine, reduce and replace in vivo testing.
Organs on a chip, organ and organotypic cultures, and computational modeling are all very promising avenues.
In vivo studies are performed on laboratory animals. These studies are the most reliable methods to view complex diseases today without compromising human safety. We use rodents for inhalation studies and for modeling tobacco-related diseases.
In vitro and in silico studies are not yet able to fully mimic complex disease biology and therefore it is not yet possible to completely eliminate animal testing. Similarly to universities and pharmaceutical companies, we already replace any animal testing method that is possible today with in vitro and in silico alternatives, as long as human safety is not compromised. When replacement is not possible, the number of animals in each experiment is reduced to the minimum.
While working on the replacement methods, animal well-being is continuously improved when refining older approaches. PMI has in vivo facilities at our Singapore premises.
All around the world, scientists in academia and industry collect and share their knowledge about chemicals, biological molecules and their cellular roles, and diseases in extensive databases.
Informatics is now indispensable for leveraging this massive data, which has also made it necessary to develop new dedicated computational tools and standards.
PMI's in silico research has been indispensable for the results we have obtained in the field of Systems Toxicology.