The Lush Prize supports animal-free testing by awarding monetary prizes totalling £250,000 to the most effective projects and individuals who have been working toward 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 of £250,000) 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 2016 Lush Science Prize. This process involved reviewing recent work of the relevant scientific institutions and projects in this area, such as the OECD, CAAT, The Hamner Institutes, ECVAM, UK NC3Rs, and the US Tox21 Programme. 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 EUSAAT-Linz, Society of Toxicology, and SEURAT-1 conferences.
The Lush Science Prize 2016 was awarded to Daniele Zink and Lit-Hsin Loo for the interdisciplinary and collaborative work between their research groups in developing alternative methods for the prediction of nephrotoxicity in humans. The collaboration has led to the establishment of a series of pioneering alternative methods for nephrotoxicity prediction, which includes: predictive gene expression markers based on pro-inflammatory responses; predictive in vitro cellular models based on pluripotent stem cell-derived proximal tubular-like cells; and predictive cellular phenotypic markers based on chromatin and cytoskeletal changes. A high-throughput method was established for chemical testing, which is currently being used to predict the potential human nephrotoxicity of ToxCast compounds in collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Similar high-throughput imaging-based methodologies are currently being developed and adapted by the Zink and Loo groups, to include other human organs and cell types. The ultimate goal is to develop a portfolio of methods accepted for the accurate prediction of human organ-specific toxicity and the consequent replacement of animal experiments.
The complex toxicological fields of repeat dose organ toxicity (RDT) and developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) still require new concepts and approaches to achieve a fully animal-free safety assessment of chemicals. One novel approach is the generation of relevant human cell types from pluripotent stem cells, and the use of such cells for the establishment of phenotypic test methods. Due to their broad endpoints, such tests capture multiple types of toxicants, i.e. they are a readout for the activation of many adverse outcome pathways (AOPs). The 2016 Lush Science Prize was awarded for the development of one such assay, the PeriTox test, which uses human peripheral neurons generated from stem cells. The assay endpoints measure various cell functions, and these give information on the potential neurotoxicity and developmental neurotoxicity hazard of test compounds. The PeriTox test method has a high predictivity and sensitivity for peripheral neurotoxicants, and thus addresses the inherent challenges in pesticide testing and drug development. Data from the test can be obtained quickly and at a relatively high-throughput, and thus, the assay has the potential to replace animal-based safety assessment during early product development or for screening potential environmental toxicants.
Good science, the training of energetic and enthusiastic young researchers, and the experience of industry veterans, will all be needed to drive the implementation and regulatory approval of animal replacement methods in industry
The Brazilian Network for Humane Education (RedEH) is an independent and self-managed group comprised of academics from ten different Brazilian states and a number of international collaborators. In 2016, in a concerted effort to change the educational field in Brazil and propagate humane education, RedEH sent a request to the Brazilian National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA), asking that harmful animal use in education in professional and undergraduate courses be banned. This was the first formal request for a total replacement of harmful animal use in education in Brazil, and represented a major historic landmark in the advancement of Brazilian science education. This paper presents the full text of the request, as well as outlining its national and international repercussions. The request was supported by InterNICHE and representatives of 18 other international organisations. A major national impact of the request was its recognition by the Federal Council of Veterinary Medicine. With this action, academics and researchers took a potentially revolutionary step in the Brazilian education arena, with regard to advancing and supporting a higher quality, ethical and democratic educational system.