For ethical and cost-related reasons, use of animals for the assessment of mode of action, metabolism and/or toxicity of new drug candidates has been increasingly scrutinized in research and industrial applications. Implementation of the 3 “Rs”1; rule (Reduction, Replacement, Refinement) through development of in silico or in vitro assays has become an essential element of risk assessment. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK2) modeling is the most potent in silico tool used for extrapolation of pharmacokinetic parameters to animal or human models from results obtained in vitro. Although, many types of in vitro assays are conducted during drug development, use of cell cultures is the most reliable one. Two-dimensional (2D) cell cultures have been a part of drug development for many years. Nowadays, their role is decreasing in favor of three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures and co-cultures. 3D cultures exhibit protein expression patterns and intercellular junctions that are closer to in vivo states in comparison to classical monolayer cultures. Co-cultures allow for examinations of the mutual influence of different cell lines. However, the complexity and high costs of co-cultures and 3D equipment exclude such methods from high-throughput screening (HTS).3In vitro absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion assessment, as well as drug-drug interaction (DDI), are usually performed with the use of various cell culture based assays.
Progress in in silico and in vitro methods can lead to better in vitro-in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE4) outcomes and have a potential to contribute towards a significant reduction in the number of laboratory animals needed for drug research. As such, concentrated efforts need to be spent towards the development of an HTS in vitro platform with satisfactory IVIVE features.