Drug targeting preparations are designed to be used in man, however most research with these preparations is carried out in animals. Due to known species differences, the study of these preparations in man in an early stage of development is therefore of paramount importance. In vitro studies exploiting human tissue can be used to ensure that these drug targeting devices reach the desired target cells and once there, are effective. When cells in the liver are the main target, in vitro research should be undertaken using preparations of both healthy and diseased human liver. As was discussed earlier in this chapter, liver slices seem like the ideal in vitro preparation for this purpose. The original architecture of the liver is still intact in the slice, which enables normal intercellular communication and cell-selective distribution of drugs. Slices can also be used to study drug interactions and the mechanisms and specificity of carrier-mediated uptake of drugs. In addition, the distribution of the drug into different cell types in the tissue can easily be studied in preparations of organ slices, as can the efficacy of the drug which is coupled to the targeting device. Furthermore, metabolism and toxicity of the drug targeting device or the released drug can be determined in the human liver. And finally, an important aspect of this type of in vitro research in man is, that it will ultimately lead to a reduction in the use of animal experiments.
In future, drug targeting devices aimed at other human organs may also be studied using precision-cut tissue slices.The latest data/literature on precision-cut tissue slices can be found at http://www.farm.rug.nl/slice/open.html.
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