Scientists are increasingly lobbying for non-animal models for biomedical research, given that subtle genetic differences between humans and animals can lead to pronounced differences in disease severity. Advanced technologies such as organs-on-chips are showing potential to make biomedical research more human-relevant. Surat reports on a recent virtual event that initiated a dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of implementing human-relevant models and frameworks in India.
Traditional vaccine trials rely on large sample populations and natural infection processes. A quicker, cheaper, but riskier method, called Controlled Human Infection Model studies (CHIMs), has also been in practice for some time. In CHIMs, volunteers are deliberately infected with a pathogen to study its effects or to test the efficacy of a vaccine. In this article, Aditi examines the science behind CHIMs and the ethical implications of legalising this method in India, where such trials are presently banned.
As India moves through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and puts containment procedures in place, the need for rapid and widespread testing is becoming more and more critical every day. In such a scenario, it is crucial for the public and private healthcare sectors to combine their forces and coordinate their actions.