Researchers at the University of Utah have turned conventional toxicity testing upside down and may have better answers for how drugs are effecting us. It’s a new way of assessing how a drug, in this case an anti-depressant, may effect survival instincts in mice.
In the wild, males compete with each other for female attention to prove they are worthy of being a mate and choose a nesting areas where there is ready access to food and water. Paxil was given to a group of males and females, to look at the effects of the antidepressant on offspring. Their “territory” consisted of a room that was divided into several regions where some areas had better access to food and water than others.
Males offspring were less territorial, gained less weight and also produced 44% less offspring. The females had litters half the size of normal females. What this paradigm suggests is that this could be an early indicator of toxicity that conventional toxicity testing in cell culture and other models does not provide.