Human Exceptionalism

Non Controversial Biotech: Biomarkers in Drug Testing

So much time is spent by the media (and SHS) arguing about technologies like cloning and ESCR, that I like to feature non-controversial biotech stories from time to time in order to help us all keep a proper perspective. This story seems a good example: New biomarkers are being tested that may detect kidney damage in patients involved in new drug tests much earlier than is possible under current protocols, which don’t pick up kidney damage until 1/3-1/2 of organ function is lost. But the new tests may allow for much quicker detection. From the story:

The set of seven biomarker tests, when used in rats, can detect kidney damage almost as soon as it occurs, Goodsaid said. The tests measure levels in the urine of substances associated with the breakdown of kidney cells. At this point, the FDA and European regulators are encouraging drugmakers to use the new test array on a voluntary basis in the animal studies they use to assess experimental drugs that may be advanced into clinical trials in humans. The older tests for kidney toxicity will still be required to monitor clinical trial subjects.

Note that when I say non controversial I need to put in an important caveat: This new test, like almost all biotechnology, requires animal testing to perfect. This means opposition from animal rights activists is a given. But, they oppose all animal testing, which means at some point they oppose the development of virtually all new medical and biotechnological advances. So, I think it is fair to say that since they hate everything, they don’t count.