Progress Is Being Made; India Is Establishing Their First Government Centre On Alternatives To Animal Testing In Biomedical Research

In a historic move to advance human medical progress and move away from reliance on monkeys, dogs and other animals as testing models for human diseases, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), under the aegis of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has announced its plans to establish a new “ICMR Centre of Excellence in Human Pathway-Based Biomedicine and Risk Assessment” in Hyderabad.

ICMR’s announcement comes on the heels of meetings with Humane Society International and People for Animals, which have urged Indian science funding bodies to ramp up their investment in leading technologies such as human organs-on-a-chip and next-generation computer modeling techniques, which are essential for advancing public health and economic growth alongside the United States, Europe, China, and other global innovation leaders.

HSI/India Deputy Director Alokparna Sengupta said in a statement, “We are grateful to ICMR for thinking outside the cage and heeding our call to establish this urgently needed centre for advancement of human-specific approaches for medical research and product safety testing. More and more scientists are questioning the relevance and utility of animal-based research and testing, while foreign funding agencies are investing heavily in cutting-edge non-animal technologies. This new ICMR centre, if properly resourced, has the potential to make India a key global player in 21st century medical research. We look forward to continued collaboration with ICMR to make this vision a reality.”

In parallel, ICMR has coordinated the drafting of an “Indian Roadmap on Alternatives to Animals in Research” with inputs from eminent Indian scientists and experts in the area, including representatives of HSI/India. It is expected that this white paper document will serve as a foundation for developing future research funding calls by ICMR, which will ultimately drive the science agenda at the new human-focused Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad.

Humane Society International is a founding member of the Biomedical Research for the 21st Century (BioMed21) collaboration, a diverse, international group of stakeholders who share a vision of a new, human-focused paradigm in medical research. The collaboration is currently advertising an open funding call aimed exclusively at Indian health scientists, to support the development and open-access publication of targeted review articles in key public health areas such as cancer, diabetes (type II), cardiovascular diseases and tuberculosis.

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