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November 29, 2022
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In Vitro vs. In Vivo: What Does It Mean?

In vitro vs in vivo. What are these two types of research methodologies, and how do they compare to one another?

When reading research, especially related to medicine or drug development, you may have come across the terms in vitro and in vivo. These are the two main types of studies conducted in medical research, and they’re essential to bringing a new drug to market.

In Vitro Medical Studies

In vitro translates from Latin as “in the glass.” In vitro studies are done on cultured cells, in a highly controlled lab environment.

In vitro studies provide a lot of insight into how a cell will react to a substance without any extraneous variables or factors that may muddy the results. It provides simple, clear data about very specific reactions and responses, so it’s an important part of preliminary drug testing.

In vitro studies are generally fast and easy to conduct, and they can provide very important insight.

Historically, it was often difficult to relate in vitro findings to real-life applications, so it  was usually done as a precursor to in vivo research. However, nowadays, in vitro 3D tissue models make it possible to derive much more robust conclusions.

In Vivo Clinical Trials

In vivo translates from Latin as “in the living.” In vivo testing is done on living organisms, and includes human clinical trials, animal model studies, and even research done on plants.

In vivo testing makes it possible to understand what kind of impact a substance will have on the whole organism – not just on the individual cells.

In vivo testing can be quite complicated and expensive since research usually spans long periods of time. When bringing a new drug to market, multiple in vivo tests are normally conducted.

Animal models provide important safety and efficacy data. This information is an important precursor to human clinical trials since it helps mitigate risk and reduce undue costs, although it’s also controversial. Human clinical trials aren’t just complex to organize, but they also come with major regulatory and ethical implications.

Similarities and Differences Between In Vitro and In Vivo

Needless to say, studying isolated cells in a petri dish is very different from doing research on animal models or humans. These are the main similarities and differences.

In vitro research is much easier and more affordable to conduct than in vivo. With in vitro studies, it’s possible to achieve results and make findings very quickly. It’s also possible to conduct many tests or screenings in one go and achieve a concurrent understanding of whatever is being studied.

In vivo research, in comparison, is a much longer and more expensive process, especially when it comes to human clinical trials.

Both in vitro and in vivo testing have wide-ranging applications in medical research and drug development. The results from in vitro testing are extremely precise and specific, while in vivo studies provide a broader understanding.

In vitro testing is very applicable in the early stages of drug development, as well as in all stages of bringing a new cosmetic to market. Such testing makes it possible to screen for toxicity and drug interactions. With micro physiological models, it’s also possible to answer larger questions and make more robust predictions about how a substance will affect a whole organ system.

In vitro testing has an extremely broad range of applications, and it provides very specific data. This is why it’s an important part of safety and efficacy testing, on its own or as an essential precursor to in vivo studies.

IONTOX In Vitro Testing

IONTOX specializes in in vitro testing. To understand more about the range of services we offer, get in touch with us. One of our scientists will be available to talk to you about the process and make suggestions about your organization’s specific needs.

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