Differences between in vivo and in vitro studies

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If you've read medical research, you've probably seen that some is done "in vivo" and some is done "in vitro." What are the definitions and differences of these terms and why are they important to understanding medical research?

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Definitions

In vitro : Term in vitro. refers to a medical research or experiment that is performed in a laboratory in a test tube or laboratory dish.

In vivo : The term in vivo refers to a medical test, experiment, or procedure that is performed on (or on) a living organism, such as a laboratory animal or human.

Clinical trials or medical research can be conducted both in vivo and in vitro. These approaches are similar in that they are used to advance understanding and treatment of disease and illness, as well as to understand "well-being" and normal bodily functions.

But there are also many important differences in how in vivo and in vitro studies are conducted, in how they can be interpreted, and in the practical application of the discoveries made.

In vitro medical research

Medical research (such as testing the ability of a drug to treat cancer) often it is initially carried out in vitro, either in a test tube or in laboratory glassware. An example is the cultivation of cancer cells in utensils outside the body to study them and their possible treatments.

Research is usually done in vitro first for ethical reasons. In vitro studies allow you to study a substance safely without exposing humans or animals to the potential side effects or toxicity of a new drug.

Researchers learn all they can about the drug before exposing people to potential negative effects. If, for example, a chemotherapy drug does not work on cancer cells growing in a dish, it would be unethical to force people to use the drug and risk possible toxicity.

In vitro research is important because it allows new therapies to be developed more quickly: many drugs can be studied simultaneously (and can be studied in a large number of cell samples), and only those that appear to be effective are still being used. human studies.

The lack of biokinetics (how the body transfers and metabolizes drugs and toxins) is one of the main drawbacks of in vitro studies. This, as well as several other factors, can make it difficult to extrapolate the results of in vitro tests to what would be expected when using the drug in vivo .

In vivo clinical trials

Unlike in vitro research, in vivo research is necessary to see how the body as a whole will respond to a particular substance.

In some cases, in vitro studies of a drug will show promise, but subsequent in vivo studies may not show any efficacy (or otherwise find the drug unsafe) when used in the many constantly occurring metabolic processes. in body.

An example of how in vivo studies are needed to evaluate drugs is their absorption into the body. The new drug may appear to act on dishes, but not on the human body. Perhaps the drug is not absorbed as it passes through the stomach, so it has little effect on the person.

In other cases (even if the drug is administered intravenously ), it may happen that the body breaks down the drug as a result of a series of reactions that occur all the time, and therefore the drug will not be effective when used directly. . Inhumans.

It is important to note that in vivo studies are often performed first in non-human animals such as mice. These studies allow researchers to see how the drug works among other processes in the body.

There are important differences between mice and humans. Sometimes a drug that is effective in mice will not be effective in humans (and vice versa) due to internal differences between species.

Get the word of drug information

When looking at research done to evaluate cancer treatments or any other therapy, verifying what research it is (in vivo or in vitro) is an important first step.

In vitro studies are extremely important and provide a basis for future research, but many of these studies have interesting results that will not affect you as a person for some time.

Rather, in vivo studies examine the actual effects on the body, be it a laboratory animal or a human.

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