Cell-based tests promise respite for lab animals

2016-01-26 21:56
Researchers have found that hot water, not urine, can relieve jellyfish stings. (AP)

Researchers have found that hot water, not urine, can relieve jellyfish stings. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Scientists in the United States said on Tuesday they were developing a faster, more efficient way of gauging the toxicity of chemicals, which may reduce the need for animal testing.

Using human cells in Petri dishes in the lab, they tested about 10 000 different types of chemical compounds including pesticides, industrial chemicals, food additives and drugs.

The results were used to build models to "predict" whether the compounds, or combinations of them, may be harmful to humans or the environment when used in new drugs or environmental chemicals.

Toxicity is one of the main reasons that new drugs fail, and it is hoped this library of toxicity data may spot unsafe chemical compounds at a far earlier phase of research.

"Thousands of chemicals to which humans are exposed have inadequate data on which to predict their potential for toxicological effects," the study authors wrote in the journal Nature Communications.

Traditional toxicity tests using animals are expensive and species differences mean they do not always accurately predict a chemical's effect on humans.

They also raises ethical concerns about animal welfare.

The project, dubbed Tox21, is a joint effort involving three US federal agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"An important goal of the US Tox21 programme is to use in vitro (Petri dish) data as surrogates for in vivo (live) toxicity to reduce animal testing," study co-author Ruili Huang of the NIH told AFP by email.

But to achieve this, cell tests have to be just as predictive, or more so, of human toxicity as animal tests.

10 000 compounds

After testing about 10 000 compounds, each in 15 different concentrations and on different cells, the team used their database to build predictive models for new chemical combinations.

They found that their models could predict toxicity for both humans and animals, and may be "a promising alternative to traditional animal toxicology studies."

Further work must be done to validate and improve the models, which Huang said may never completely replace animal testing.

It may, however, allow scientists to prioritise chemicals predicted to be most likely toxic for further tests using traditional methods, and so "significantly reduce the amount of animal tests required," he said.

Animal activists have welcomed the research.

"To understand more about human development and human diseases, the world's most forward-thinking scientists are developing and implementing methods that supersede the crude use of animals," Julia Baines, science policy advisor of the organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told AFP.

"PETA welcomes the wealth of advanced non-animal research methodologies that are creating a brighter future for animals and human health."

Read more on:    fda  |  epa  |  peta  |  us  |  health  |  research

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.