EMBO reports, 2019; Invertebrates, drugs and developing nations DOI 10.15252
The potential of invertebrate animal models for advancing science in
the developing world
Armando Castillo, Yila de la Guardia.
Creating and expanding research and development (R&D) programs remains a challenge for developing and middle-income countries, but it is also a great potential for creating new industries, jobs and wealth. However, merely trying to catch up with the research infrastructure, scientific expertise and research output by developed nations is largely futile; fostering research requires different approaches.
Many Asian and Latin American countries have implemented national scholarship programmes to send students, junior and senior researchers abroad for scientific training in an effort to create qualified personnel so as to jumpstart local R&D upon their return. As a result, the publication rates of South American countries have doubled during the past decade, but still account for only 4% of the global publication volume , mainly owing to limited funding.
It is therefore necessary to adopt additional, cost-efficient strategies to produce reliable data, within the funding constraints, that contribute to building a viable research infrastructure. In terms of biomedical research and drug discovery, this could involve investing into cheaper alternatives to rodent models for in vivo testing of drug candidates, such as invertebrate species, to decrease cost and time, and to stimulate new research areas and high-throughput (HTS) screening. Adopting research strategies based on HTS of invertebrate models, which are already benefiting research elsewhere, could thereby provide a boost for research in developing and middle-income countries.
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