Humane Society International/Europe (HSI) urged the European Union to lead the world in cutting-edge research and testing as it kicked off discussions about how to spend its Horizon 2020 research funding budget. Horizon 2020, devised to strengthen the E.U.’s position in science, is being debated by the E.U. Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee.
Horizon 2020 combines funding from E.U. Framework programs, the European Research Council and elsewhere, and aims to support science excellence and innovation. HSI Europe said by funding advanced research at the cutting edge of science, Horizon 2020 will better equip E.U. scientists to tackle the major human and environmental health challenges of the 21st century.
Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology for Humane Society International/Europe, said, “If Horizon 2020’s key objective of supporting science excellence is to be achieved, it is vital that substantial funding is focused on advanced, human-relevant research and testing methods. By investing in the development of emerging and future research technologies, we can harness the very latest human health and drug discovery advances that science has to offer and improve the quality of our medical research endeavors. Supporting industries today that are inventing the science techniques of tomorrow will also stimulate economic growth. In vitro and computational techniques represent science’s future and Horizon 2020 is Europe’s chance to make sure it is leading the way.”
According to HSI, advanced research such as state-of-the-art cellular, computer and robotic tools are already superseding many of the limitations of traditional methods, particularly the poor productivity of traditional animal-based approaches that can delay vital medical research. The FDA calculates that 92% of new drug candidates that appear safe and effective in animal studies fail when given to humans, said HSI. To reverse the slow pace of progress in key areas such as cancer, asthma and degenerative neurological disorders, far greater investment is needed in sophisticated tools and technologies more relevant to humans.
Improving the speed and relevance of chemical safety testing is also a priority concern of HSI in a number of E.U. policy areas, such as cosmetics and REACH chemicals legislation. A paradigm shift in safety testing is already underway with the slow and costly tests of the last century being replaced by high-speed, sophisticated techniques, it said.