Kelly A. BéruBé
With the advent of biobanks to store human lung cells and tissues from patient donations and from the procurement of medical waste tissues, it is now possible to integrate (both spatially and temporally) cells into anatomically-correct and physiologically-functional tissues. Modern inhalation toxicology relies on human data on exposure and adverse effects, to determine the most appropriate risk assessments and mitigations for beneficial respiratory health. A point in case is the recapitulation of airway tissue, such as the bronchial epithelium, to investigate the impact of air pollution on human respiratory health. The bronchi are the first point of contact for inhaled substances that bypass defences in the upper respiratory tract. Animal models have been used to resolve such inhalation toxicology hazards. However, the access to medical waste tissues has enabled the Lung Particle Research Group to tissue-engineer the Micro-Lung™ and Metabo-Lung™ cell culture models, as alternatives to animals in basic research and in the safety testing of aerosolised consumer goods. The former model favours investigations focused on lung injury and repair mechanisms, and the latter model provides the element of metabolism, through the co-culturing of lung and liver (hepatocyte) cells. These innovations represent examples of the animal-free alternatives advocated by the 21st century toxicology paradigm, whereby human-derived cell/tissue data will lead to more accurate and more-reliable public health risk assessments and therapeutic mitigations (e.g. exposure to ambient air pollutants and adverse drug reactions) for lung disease.
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