Computer software developed at the University of Oxford could put an end to the use of animal testing in drugs trials.

The ‘Virtual Assay’ software is able to predict the impact a drug will have on the heart, cardiotoxicity, of different people. It uses ‘computer (in silico) models based on human data’ to gauge potential side effects.

“Using the Virtual Assay software and human-based computer models removes the need to translate results from animals, thus increasing prediction accuracy in humans. By using our software at early stages in drug development, pharmaceutical companies could majorly increase the quality of compounds making it to clinical trials, reducing late drug withdrawals due to un-detected cardiotoxic effects. This will reduce costs and time, as well as decrease the need for using animals,” said Dr Elisa Passini from Oxford’s Department of Computer Science.

The university is collaborating with several pharmaceutical companies, who have been successfully trying out the software, and the research continues.