Stanford University to study better animal modeling through MCMi funding

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Medical Countermeasures Initiative recently awarded Stanford University funding from its first Broad Agency Announcement.

The FDA and MCMi's first BAA, the Advanced Research and Development of Regulatory Science and Innovation, was awarded to support collaborative research between industry, government laboratories and academic institutions in the area of developing medical countermeasures to protect against threats to the United States and global security.

Stanford researchers plan to use mass cytometry to enable the first single cell cross-species analysis of immune system functions. They will map the immune responses to certain biothreat agents and possible MCMs in both humans and animals.

They will then use the data collected to create species-specific immune function maps. When overlaid using advanced computing techniques, the researchers should be able to highlight the differences and similarities between human and animal immune responses, creating a better way to evaluate how MCMs would work in the human body when they have only been tested in animals.

The results of the Stanford research, including the analysis tools used to evaluate results, will be made available to the scientific community through open-access recourses.

"Inasmuch as other mammals have organs similar to our own (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.), the immune system is composed of functional components that are similar, but not identical, when comparing humans to other animals," the FDA said. "Understanding where immune functions are similar in humans and animal models, and critically knowing where they are different, will help FDA and the biomedical research community to evaluate medical countermeasures and, eventually, aid in evaluating and delivering better countermeasures and therapies."