Animal experimentation could become unnecessary for developing treatments and testing medications, say Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers. They’ve developed a model to find the connection between tissue damage and the mechanical function of cells.

Prof. Amit Gefen of the biomedical engineering department of the TAU Engineering Faculty has developed a new computerized algorithm. When a three-dimensional image of a cell is scanned using confocal laser microscopy (an imaging technique used to increase optical resolution), the algorithm can ‘see’ how it would behave under different conditions. The research was recently published in the Journal of Biomechanics.

Gefen has conducted considerable research on rodents to find ways to treat ‘diabetic foot’ that, when all else fails, requires amputation of the limb. However, he switched to using tissue cultures of skin, muscle and bone in the lab.

Then he learned to test different characteristics of the same cell over and over. With his new algorithm, the process is even more streamlined and effective and Gefen believes it can be used as a generic technique to study external influences on cells in a variety of fields. This technique may one day obviate the need for animal experimentation.