Wissenschaftlicher Kongress am Samstag, 27. Oktober 2018 in Köln

Ann Lam

Dr. Ann Lam, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Research and Regulatory Affairs Department, Washington D.C., and The Green Neuroscience Laboratory, Neurolinx Research Institute, San Diego, USA

Beyond opposition: breakthroughs in human-based approaches to basic neuroscience and medical discovery


Ann Lam, PhD[1,2]; Elan Liss Ohayon, PhD[2,3]

[1] Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
[2] The Green Neuroscience Laboratory, Neurolinx Research Institute
[3] The Institute for Green and Open Sciences

Scientific and ethical principles exist to drive us to improve our research methods, scrutinize our biases and findings while also demanding that we recognize and address the individual, societal and global impact of our endeavors. However, the long-standing and repeated inability to find disease-modifying therapies in neurological conditions that affect millions of individuals requires a serious rethink of our approaches. We must face the repeated and profound failure to meet basic scientific and ethical benchmarks. For example, the failure to find disease-modifying therapies in brain conditions such as dementia and epilepsy following decades of animal experimentation underscores the terrible consequence of this dependency.

The findings and reasons that show how the reliance on animal research has led to failure have been well documented. However, in this presentation I aim to go beyond the arguments of opposition and descriptions of failure and instead demonstrate how burgeoning human-based approaches are already proving to be superior to animal experimentation both ethically and scientifically. In particular I will briefly survey breakthrough human-based techniques including: (i) xeno-free stem cells (ii) human-based tissue studies (e.g., with resected surgical and postmortem tissue) and (iii) generative computational approaches. I will discuss how some of these techniques can be applied in epilepsy and dementia research combining decades-old methods with cutting-edge approaches (e.g., synchrotron imaging). I will also highlight how these can address scientific pitfalls that are reappearing in new forms such as xeno-contaminations, chimeric models and reductive thinking. Together, the new techniques and insights help foster the ethical and scientific paradigm shifts necessary in our quest for precision medicine, health and basic understanding of the brain and ourselves.