Comparing in Vitro & in Vivo for Students in Regulatory Affairs Courses

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While there are hundreds of different types of experiments and studies, they can almost all fit into two main categories: in vitro and in vivo. To the untrained ear, in vitro probably rings a bell, as it’s commonly referred to as a means of helping with infertility. While in vitro fertilization is surely important in the medical and science communities, in vitro studies go far beyond just that. In vitro and in vivo studies can be used to test potentially life-changing pharmaceutical products, and each testing method has its own benefits and drawbacks.

If you’re considering a career in the pharmaceutical industry, read on to learn more about in vitro and vivo studies.

What Students in Regulatory Affairs Courses Should Know About In Vitro

The term “in vitro” means in glass in Latin, which alludes to the fact that in vitro studies are typically conducted in mediums like test tubes, Petri dishes, and flasks. As graduates of regulatory affairs courses may discover during their career, in vitro studies are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industries to test antibiotics and a range of pharmaceutical products, and are performed on specimens like cells, biological molecules, and microorganisms. It’s important to remember that in vitro experiments are not conducted on entire animals or living specimens. In addition, they are conducted outside of the sample’s natural environment.

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In vitro studies can be conducted in a Petri dish

What Students in Regulatory Affairs Courses Should Know About In Vivo

In vivo studies are performed on complete living organisms in their native environment. These organisms could include animals, people, and plants. In vivo studies are conducted on the entire being, and not just part of it. In addition, for a study to be considered in vivo, the organism must be alive.

The goal of in vivo studies is to see how experiments play out when dealing with the complexities of an entire body’s systems. As professionals with careers in regulatory affairs likely know, oftentimes, in vivo studies are used after in vitro in order to further test pharmaceutical products. Two of the most prevalent types of in vivo studies are clinical trials and animal testing.

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In vivo studies involve living specimens like rats

The Benefits of In Vivo and In Vitro

Both in vitro and in vivo have their own unique sets of benefits. In vitro is a simpler option because it allows researchers to isolate a certain part of a specimen and test on it without having to take into account the interaction with and impact of the organism’s other biological systems. In addition, in vitro is less expensive and requires less regulation, and researchers don’t have to accommodate living subjects the same way they would with an in vivo clinical trial.

In vivo has its benefits, too. In most cases, in vitro testing simply won’t cut it when researchers are trying to test pharmaceuticals for market. In vivo testing is one of the only ways to truly understand how an antibiotic or drug will behave inside a bodily system. Oftentimes, a pharmaceutical product will behave completely differently during in vitro and in vivo studies. The only way to find out if the drug is safe for humans is to test it on a living organism in an environment as close to its natural one as possible.

Each study will have its own unique needs that will determine whether in vivo or in vitro (or both) is the best route. Ethically, researchers should always try to refrain from testing on human or living subjects unless it’s necessary in determining the efficacy and safety of the pharmaceutical or product.

Do you want to learn more about starting a career in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs?

Contact AAPS today to learn more!