Blog Image

The ISBGroup Blog

About the blog

Here you can read about everything that's happening in the ISB Group.

Upcoming lecture in new European webinar series on 3R, Sept 22-24

3R and animal experiments, Events, News Posted on Sun, September 06, 2020 22:56:51

A new international webinar series on 3R – replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal experiments – is about to start! And we are present with a lecture!

From our group, Gunnar Cedersund and Elin Nyman are members of the National Committee on 3Rs, which also serves as the steering committee for the Swedish 3R center (S3RC). Our S3RC has now joined forces with a few other corresponding national centres, and this has led to the launch of a new webinar series. The first edition of this will take place on Sept 22-24, lunch times i.e. 12.30-13.30 CET. Gunnar will present a lecture on digital twins on the last day, i.e. Sept 24.

This is a great initiative, and I hope it will be the start of more collaborations between the centres!

More info, and sign-up here.

Presentations at the VPH Virtual Physiological Human conference

3R and animal experiments, Events, News Posted on Sun, August 30, 2020 01:43:23

As usual, we have attended the Virtual Physiological Human conference, which this year was given as an eConference. This year, our group was represented with two oral presentations, and three poster presentations. The first oral presentation was held by Gunnar Cedersund, with the title: “Multi-organ and multi-level digital twin models enters the clinic”, and it was similar to the presentation already held at numerous earlier occasions, e.g. at Almedalen, in the Swedish Parliament, at NIH, etc.

Screen short from Peter Gennemark’s presentation at the VPH conference

The second presentation was of a new project: Belén Casas’ postdoc project on modelling of microphysiological systems. This project is financed by AstraZeneca, who are the ones who do the experiments, in collaboration with the company TissUse. This modelling has allowed us to both understand the available system better, and to create a first translation up to humans. This brings us one step closer to finding a workable replacement for animal experiments regarding research on type 2 diabetes and Nonalcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH) in the liver. The postdoc project has been supervised by Gunnar Cedersund and Peter Gennemark (AstraZeneca, but also adjoint associate professor in our group). Since Belen is now away on parental leave, Peter gave the presentation. The three final poster presentations were on digital twins and multi-level modelling (Tilda Herrgårdh), on modelling of fatty acid fluxes in the fat tissue (Kajsa Tunedal), and on a new model for exercise (Antonia Klingsäter). Apart from our own presentations, it was interesting to see that the new ASME V&V40 guidelines from FDA, on usage of modelling in certification, are getting more and more traction. Another interesting presentation was the keynote held by Tarique Hussain, who talked about how he has been using advanced modelling of the heart, to help guide treatment planning of complicated cases in child cardiology.

Screen short from the presentation by Tarique Hussain

Seminar day on non-animal perspectives in biomedicine and drug development with 3R

3R and animal experiments, Events, Systems biology and science Posted on Tue, January 14, 2020 19:28:05

Today, parts of the group participated at a seminar day with the Swedish 3R center in stockholm, both with posters, presentations and in discussions.

The day consisted of presentations from people doing research that can/could lead to replacement of animal testing – specifically on organs on a chip and mathematical modelling – and a panel discussions. In the panel discussions, among other things, the capabilities of the presented research to replace animal testing was discussed, what they can replace, and what the hurdels of making that happen are. All in all, the day gave a clearer vision on where we are, where we couldget, and how to do it.

From the panel discussion. From left to right, Per Artursson, Uppsala University, Karin Stenkula, Lund University, Lotte Martoft, AstraZeneca, Peter Gennemark, AstraZeneca, and Gunnar Cedersund chairing the discussions.

Corren-article and debates with colleagues

3R and animal experiments Posted on Tue, February 14, 2017 13:22:11

Late last year, we were featued in a news article in the local news paper: Östgöta correspondenten (often referred to simply as “Corren”). The news article can be seen in the picture below, and it deals with research developed to replace animal experiments, and argues that Linköping university probably is the leading university on this topic in Sweden: we e.g. have a clear 3R-policy, have strong researchers in the area, and both of the two most prestigeous prizes from the Stockholm-based “Swedish Fund for Research without Animal Testing” called “Nytänkaren” has gone to researchers who (at the time) were located in Linköping. The article then goes on to feature an interview with me, and on our type of research: how mathematical modelling can and is replacing animal experiments.

This is not the first time we are featured in media lately. In fact, there have probably been written some 10 news articles in different media on this aspect of our research following our award in late 2015, and they have all been very similar. Most often, the reactions have been very positive, and congratulory, showing appreciation and a new hope over these new possibilities. Similarly, many researchers who have heard my lectures have also been very enthusiastic, and a common reaction nowadays is something like “I had no idea about these recent breakthroughs; I now feel that I lag much behind in my methodology, since I don’t use modelling; what can I do about that?”. This time, however, was the first time these things were featured in Corren, and perhaps for this reason, many of my colleagues read it, and some of them (mostly researchers who themselves do a lot of animal testing) reacted negatively to what it says. I don’t know all that was said about it, but some of the reactions I heard indirectly said that “one shouldn’t write that replacements of animal experiments are possible, since this will lead to the public mandating that this happens generally”. One colleague wrote an email to me directly, stating some specific and somewhat similar concerns about the artice. To this colleague, I wrote a detailed reply, which then led to us writing some rather long exchanges back and forth. All in all, this has now resulted in about 20 pages of text back and forth, dealing with different aspects on this topic.

Since much of these concerns are concerns and thoughts that I have heard many times before, and which most often are based on mis-understandings of what (sound) modelling is about, or in an unawareness of what the most recent developments actually entail, our exchanges have resulted in a growing resolve on my side to do something about this unawareness. To give a little bit of perspective on that: in all previous appearances we have made in the public world, the initiative has always come from some other source; we got the initial award “Nytänkaren” without even applying for it, and in all following media appearances, we have just responded to invitations, to give presentations, to do interviews, etc. Now, however, because of these exchanges, I have realized that I do feel quite strongly about these things, and that I really am concerned about all the mis-conceptions that are floating around (perhaps especially in the biological research communities) concerning what modelling can and cannot do, not only but also in relationship to animal experiments, I am hereby opening a new category in our blog, called “3R and animal experiments”. In this category, I will feature my thoughts and news concerning this exciting topic, and it is intended for both colleagues and for the interested public. Then all exchanges will be public for all to see immediately.

In general, I also want to state that I think that these kind of debates is exactly what I think that science should be about: on topic, honest, and sincere discussions, where ideas can be compared, exchanged, improved, refined, and viewed for all to see.

To start this off, I am attaching the 20 pages of emails below (also including a powerpoint presentation with some figures). That text, however, is pretty long-winding, and in Swedish. Therefore, many of these points will be summarized and explained more simply/clearly in shorter following blog-posts and youtube-videos, which also most often (but not always) will be in English. So stay tuned for that!

Part 1, text from colleagues in italics

Part 2, my colleague’s response to my reply in italics (written then, as a continuous text, without specific replies to my points), upon which I replied in the same way as the first time, by breaking down the statements in small bits, and answering to them one-by-one.

Part 3, final part of the interchange (so far), same structure as above.

Part 4, powerpoint with the figures alluded to in the initial answer (Part 1, above).

Lecture at Linköping vego

3R and animal experiments Posted on Tue, February 14, 2017 12:11:17

A couple of days ago, Gunnar Cedersund held a presentation at the local event “Linköping vego”, which is a little festival on vegetarian-related topics, featuring around 300-500 attendees, 10-15 lecturers, and 10-15 exhibitioners. Gunnar’s lecture was in the “Blanche Lindgren” seminar series, which featured 4×40 min lectures on topics related to research without animal testing. The 4 lectures complemented each other: the first, by Karin Gabrielson Morton, featured an overview of the field as a whole, some historical examples of breakthroughs, and also an overview of the organizing body, the Swedish Fund for Research without Animal Experiments; the second presentation was the one by Gunnar (picture below), who talked about how we and others use mathematical models to reduce and replace animal testing; the third presentation was held by Anna Herland, who is the newest recipient of the same prize that we got the first edition of, “Nytänkaren”, and she works with organ-on-a-chip developments for the human brain; the final lecture was held by Kathrin Zeller who is a member of one of the flag-ship groups for the research fund, which involves an animal-free test for whether a new skin product is likely to lead to allergic reactions. Apart from spanning 4 interesting directions of biomedical research, there were also natural overlaps of interests between us: Anna’s organ-on-a-chip might allow us to test some of our hypotheses regarding how the brain’s fMRI signal is created on a cellular basis, and Kathrin’s omics-based tests for the immune system might complement our own exciting plans and projects on the same topic together with AstraZeneca.

Picture of me in the perhaps most central slide in the whole presentation. The slide illustrates with a simple thought example that a model does not have to be perfect to provide a valid replacement of test animals – it just has to be comparably good/bad as the corresponding animal test. Then, because computer simulations are so much faster and cheaper (among other things) than animal testing, the switch will happen automatically, especially in the industrial sector, which typically switches immediately, if there is money to save. There are already examples where this has happened.

At the event, we also made some initial plans for how to feature ourselves at this year’s edition of Almedalen, to which we this year might go jointly as a group. More on that to come! 🙂

ISBGroup is on TV!

3R and animal experiments Posted on Tue, February 09, 2016 12:08:38

Our research is spreading and more people are becoming aware of the possibilities of systems biology!

A few weeks ago, we had a visit from the local TV news station, Östnytt. They had become interested in our work after reading about Gunnar’s award as “Årets Nytänkare” (Innovator of the Year) from the Swedish Found for Research Without Animal Experiments. More information about the award can be found here (only in Swedish).

The TV clip can be seen below: