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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anton Windfelder

Lecture on "Caterpillars ๐Ÿ› as an alternative animal model in preclinical research ๐Ÿš‘ "

Updated: Nov 7

I look forward to giving a lecture on "Caterpillars as an alternative animal model in preclinical research" at the Seminars on Drug Sciences (SDS)

@UniBasel Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Thanks, Prof. Meyer zu Schwabedissen, for the invitation! https://pharma.unibas.ch/en/event/details/seminars-on-drug-sciences-sds/

Lecture on Caterpillars as an alternative animal model in preclinical research

Insect larvae such as tobacco hornworm can accelerate and economize preclinical research by complementing classic laboratory animals such as rats and mice.


Small mammals like mice or rats are indispensable for preclinical research. However, growing ethical concerns led to the incorporation of the 3R principle (replacement, reduction, and refinement) into animal experiments legislation and research funding. In the future the number of vertebrate laboratory animals should be reduced, and non-vertebrate alternatives should be used where possible. Furthermore, the Incorporation of the 3R principle will also economize preclinical research since insect husbandry is much cheaper than the traditional housing of laboratory mammals.


In that context, insect larvae like Manduca sexta can serve as an alternative in vivo animal model. Particularly, with the high degree of evolutionary conservation in the innate immunity of the gut and similarities in the enteric epithelial structure, Manduca sexta can serve as a model for human gut inflammation.


We have emploved the larvae of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta. which are big enough for macroscopic imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) as a high-throughput platform to study the innate immunity of the gut and host-pathogen interactions

The developed platform represents an ethically acceptable, resource-saving, large-scale, and 3R-compatible screening tool tor various lIfe science disciplines, including the identification of new effectors and inhibitors in gut inflammation, the assessment of pesticides or other environmental factors, the assessment and evaluation of new antibiotic therapies, the analysis of host-pathogen interactions, and the identitication of new contrast agents or tracers in radiology. Since 75% of the known human disease-causing genes have homologs in insects, this approach will also be helpful in testing preclinical hypotheses in inflammatory Dowel disease.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

17:15 - 18:15

Lecture Hall 1, Pharmacenter, Klingelbergstrasse, 50, Basel Host: Prof. H. Meyer zu Schwabedissen Biopharmacy

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