Lit-Hsin Loo and Daniele Zink
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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.