ATLA 43.5, November 2015

//ATLA 43.5, November 2015

News and Views

ATLA Staff Writer

Low-cost ‘Mini-brains’
Human-on-a-chip with Barrier Organ Model
Ex Vivo Model for Restenosis Research
High-resolution Digital Human Created
Financial Support for Alternatives Research
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Barriers to the Uptake of Human-based Test Methods, and How to Overcome Them

Kathy Archibald, Tamara Drake and Robert Coleman

Although there is growing concern as to the questionable value of animal-based methods for determining the safety and efficacy of new medicines, which has in turn led to many groups developing innovative human-based methods, there are many barriers to their adoption for regulatory submissions.
The reasons for this are various, and include a lack of confidence that the available human-based methods, be they in vivo, in silico or in vitro, can be sufficiently predictive of clinical outcomes. However, this is not the only problem: the issue of validation presents a serious impediment to progress, a particularly frustrating situation, in view of the fact that the existing animal-based methods have never themselves been formally validated. Superimposed upon this is the issue of regulatory requirements, where, although regulators may be willing to accept non-animal approaches in place of particular animal tests, nowhere is this explicitly stated in their guidelines. Such problems are far from trivial, and represent major hurdles to be overcome. In addition, there are a range of other barriers, real or self-imposed, that are hindering a more-predictive approach to establishing a new drug’s clinical safety and efficacy profiles. Some of these barriers are identified, and ways forward are suggested.
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2014 Lush Science Prize – background paper

Terry McCann

The Lush Prize supports animal-free testing by rewarding the most effective projects and individuals who have been working toward the goal of replacing animals in product or ingredient safety testing. A Background Paper is prepared each year, prior to the judging process, to provide the panel with a
brief overview of current developments in the field of Replacement alternatives, particularly those relevant to the concept of toxicity pathways. This Background Paper includes information on recent work by the relevant scientific institutions and projects in this area, including AXLR8, OECD, CAAT, The Hamner Institutes, the Human Toxome Project, EURL ECVAM, ICCVAM, the US Tox21 Programme, the ToxCast programme, and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium. Recent developments in toxicity pathway research are also assessed by reviewing the relevant literature, with a view to presenting the two papers receiving the highest score to the judges for consideration.
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Toward the Replacement of Animal Experiments through the Bioinformatics-driven Analysis of ‘Omics’ Data from Human Cell Cultures

Roland C. Grafström, Penny Nymark, Vesa Hongisto, Ola Spjuth, Rebecca Ceder, Egon Willighagen, Barry Hardy, Samuel Kaski and Pekka Kohonen

This paper outlines the work for which Roland Grafström and Pekka Kohonen were awarded the 2014 Lush Science Prize. The research activities of the Grafström laboratory have, for many years, covered cancer biology studies, as well as the development and application of toxicity-predictive in vitro models to determine chemical safety. Through the integration of in silico analyses of diverse types of genomics data (transcriptomic and proteomic), their efforts have proved to fit well into the recently-developed Adverse Outcome Pathway paradigm. Genomics analysis within state-of-the-art cancer biology research and Toxicology in the 21st Century concepts share many technological tools. A key category within the Three Rs paradigm is the Replacement of animals in toxicity testing with alternative methods, such as bioinformatics-driven analyses of data obtained from human cell cultures exposed to diverse toxicants. This work was recently expanded within the pan-European SEURAT-1 project (Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing), to replace repeat-dose toxicity testing with data-rich analyses of sophisticated cell culture models. The aims and objectives of the SEURAT project have been to guide the application, analysis, interpretation and storage of ‘omics’ technology-derived data within the service-oriented sub-project, ToxBank. Particularly addressing the Lush Science Prize focus on the relevance of toxicity pathways, a ‘data warehouse’ that is under continuous expansion, coupled with the development of novel data storage and management methods for toxicology, serve to address data integration across multiple ‘omics’ technologies. The prize winners’ guiding principles and concepts for modern knowledge management of toxicological data are summarised. The translation of basic discovery results ranged from chemical-testing and material testing data, to information relevant to human health and environmental safety.
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Humane Education in Brazil: Organisation, Challenges and Opportunities

Róber Bachinski, Thales Tréz, Gutemberg G. Alves, Rita de C.M. Garcia, Simone T. Oliveira, Luciano da S. Alonso, Júlio X. Heck, Claudia M.C. Dias, João M. Costa Neto, Alexandro A. Rocha, Valeska R.R. Ruiz and Rita L. Paixão

Humane education and the debate on alternatives to harmful animal use for training is a relatively recent issue in Brazil. While animal use in secondary education has been illegal since the late 1970s, animal use in higher science education is widespread. However, alternatives to animal experiments in research and testing have recently received attention from the Government, especially after the first legislation on animal experiments was passed, in 2008. This article proposes that higher science education should be based on a critical and humane approach. It outlines the recent establishment of the Brazilian Network for Humane Education (RedEH), as a result of the project, Mapping Animal Use for Undergraduate Education in Brazil, which was recognised by the 2014 Lush Prize. The network aims to create a platform to promote change in science education in Brazil, starting by quantitatively and qualitatively understanding animal use, developing new approaches adapted to the current needs in Brazil and Latin America, and communicating these initiatives nationally. This paper explores the trajectory of alternatives and replacement methods to harmful animal use in training and education, as well as the status of humane education in Brazil, from the point of view of educators and researchers engaged with the network.
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