Now in its sixth year, the Lush Prize supports animal-free testing by awarding money prizes of up to £350,000 to the most effective projects and individuals who have been working towards the goal of replacing animals in product or ingredient safety testing. Prizes are awarded for developments in five strategic areas: Science; Lobbying; Training; Public Awareness; and Young Researchers. In the event of a major breakthrough leading to the replacement of animal tests in the area of 21st Century Toxicology, a Black Box Prize (equivalent to the entire annual fund) is awarded. The Science Prize is awarded to the researchers whose work the judging panel believe has made the most significant contribution to the replacement of animal testing in the preceding year. This Background Paper outlines the research projects that were shortlisted and presented to the judging panel as potential candidates for the 2017 Lush Science Prize. This process involved reviewing recent work of the relevant scientific institutions and projects in this area, such as the OECD, Human Toxome Project, UK NC3Rs, US Tox21 programme, ToxCast programme and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium. Recent developments in toxicity testing research were also identified by searching for relevant published papers in the literature, and analysing abstracts from conferences focusing on animal replacement in toxicity testing that had been held in the preceding 12 months — for example, the 2016 EUSAAT-Linz conference and the 2017 Society of Toxicology annual conference.
This paper highlights the foundational research on multi-material 3-D bioprinting of human tissues, for which the Lewis Bioprinting team at Harvard University was awarded the 2017 Lush Science Prize. The team’s bioprinting platform enables the rapid fabrication of 3-D human tissues that contain all of the essential components found in their in vivo counterparts: cells, vasculature (or other tubular features) and extracellular matrix. The printed 3-D tissues are housed within a customised perfusion system and are subjected to controlled microphysiological environments over long durations (days to months). As exemplars, the team created a thick, stem cell-laden vascularised tissue that was controllably differentiated toward an osteogenic lineage in situ, and a 3-D kidney tissue that recapitulated the proximal tubule, a subunit of the nephron responsible for solute reabsorption. This highly versatile platform for manufacturing 3-D human tissue in vitro opens new avenues for replacing animal models used to develop next-generation therapies, test toxicity and study disease pathology.
The Brazilian government has published a resolution that bans animal use in some practical classes within undergraduate and high school technical education from April 2019. Resolution No. 38/2018, issued by the National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA), bans the killing of animals for dissection purposes and animal experiments in practical classes that do not involve the acquisition of new skills. The initial call for the ban was by the Brazilian Network for Humane Education (RedEH), an independent body comprising Brazilian professors and international collaborators dedicated to the implementation of replacement alternatives in education. The call was supported by InterNICHE, and many professors and other international organisations. The Brazilian Council of Veterinary Medicine, which is responsible for regulating the veterinary profession in Brazil, also stated its support for humane education and for the ban. The call was the first formal request, and it eventually led to the first legal resolution for the replacement of animal use in education in Brazil. This represents an important historic landmark in the advancement of science education.