This paper highlights the work for which OncoTheis, a Swiss biotechnology company, engaged in the development of innovative bioengineered tissues and organoids for cancer research, was co-awarded the 2015 Lush Science Prize. Noting that the use of animal models failed to lead to the design of effective treatments for cancer, OncoTheis has opted to develop in vitro models based exclusively on human cells. The company currently focuses on lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with more than one million deaths per year. To address this public health concern, we developed OncoCilAir™, a new 3-D model that mimics in vitro the progression of the disease as it happens in patients. In this system, bronchial and lung tumour cells obtained from discarded surgical tissue are cocultured in a Petri dish to reconstitute a fragment of the human lung. After appropriate differentiation, the culture closely reproduces malignant pulmonary nodules invading a small piece of functional airway tissue. As OncoCilAir includes both healthy and cancerous tissues, it can be used to test tumour-killing activity and the adverse effects of chemotherapies and other anti-cancer drugs. Moreover, a single culture can be maintained for up to three months, which permits studies of longer-term effects, including the assessment of drug resistance and tumour recurrence. OncoCilAir heralds a new generation of integrated in vitro models, which is expected to increase the quality of preclinical research while replacing animal testing.
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Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM) and the Process of Validation in Brazil
Octavio Presgrave, Wlamir Moura, Cristiane Caldeira, Elisabete Pereira, Maria H. Villas Boas and Chantra Eskes
The need for the creation of a Brazilian centre for the validation of alternative methods was recognised in 2008, and members of academia, industry and existing international validation centres immediately engaged with the idea. In 2012, co-operation between the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) and the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) instigated the establishment of the Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM), which was officially launched in 2013. The Brazilian validation process follows OECD Guidance Document No. 34, where BraCVAM functions as the focal point to identify and/or receive requests from parties interested in submitting tests for validation. BraCVAM then informs the Brazilian National Network on Alternative Methods (RENaMA) of promising assays, which helps with prioritisation and contributes to the validation studies of selected assays. A Validation Management Group supervises the validation study, and the results obtained are peer-reviewed by an ad hoc Scientific Review Committee, organised under the auspices of BraCVAM. Based on the peer-review outcome, BraCVAM will prepare recommendations on the validated test method, which will be sent to the National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA). CONCEA is in charge of the regulatory adoption of all validated test methods in Brazil, following an open public consultation.
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.
To Be Credible, Success in “Reducing the Use of Animals in Scientific Research” Must Involve the Use of Fewer Animals
Much worthy effort on the Three Rs is under way in the UK, but its promise of a reduction in laboratory animal use will only be credible and laudable when the number of procedures and animals are progressively and permanently reduced.
The EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test (EIT) for Hazard Identification and Labelling of Eye Irritating Chemicals: Protocol Optimisation for Solid Materials and the Results after Extended Shipment
Yulia Kaluzhny, Helena Kandárová, Yuki Handa, Jane DeLuca, Thoa Truong, Amy Hunter, Paul Kearney, Laurence d’Argembeau-Thornton and Mitchell Klausner
The 7th Amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive and the EU REACH Regulation have reinforced the need for in vitro ocular test methods. Validated in vitro ocular toxicity tests that can predict the human response to chemicals, cosmetics and other consumer products are required for the safety assessment of materials that intentionally, or inadvertently, come into contact with the eye. The EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test (EIT), which uses the normal human cell-based EpiOcular™ tissue model, was developed to address this need. The EpiOcular-EIT is able to discriminate, with high sensitivity and accuracy, between ocular irritant/corrosive materials and those that require no labelling. Although the original EpiOcular-EIT protocol was successfully pre-validated in an international, multicentre study sponsored by COLIPA (the predecessor to Cosmetics Europe), data from two larger studies (the EURL ECVAM–COLIPA validation study and an independent in-house validation at BASF SE) resulted in a sensitivity for the protocol for solids that was below the acceptance criteria set by the Validation Management Group (VMG) for eye irritation, and indicated the need for improvement of the assay’s sensitivity for solids. By increasing the exposure time for solid materials from 90 minutes to 6 hours, the optimised EpiOcular-EIT protocol achieved 100% sensitivity, 68.4% specificity and 84.6% accuracy, thereby meeting all the acceptance criteria set by the VMG. In addition, to satisfy the needs of Japan and the Pacific region, the EpiOcular-EIT method was evaluated for its performance after extended shipment and storage of the tissues (4–5 days), and it was confirmed that the assay performs with similar levels of sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility in these circumstances.
Participation of Brazil in the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences: An Increase in Commitment to the Three Rs
Octavio Presgrave, Cristiane Caldeira, Wlamir Moura, Mayara Cruz, Gisele Méier, Elisabete dos Santos and Maria H.V. Boas
Many Brazilian researchers have long been interested in the development and use of alternative methods. Most of their research groups work in isolation, due to the lack of funding for collaborative studies. Despite these problems, since the Third World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, Brazilian researchers have strongly participated, not only by presenting posters and oral presentations, but also by being involved in the World Congress Committees. The Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM) must play an important role in the development and validation of alternative methods, through the active participation of the National Network of Alternative Methods (ReNaMA). In Brazil, Law 11,794/2008 regulates the use of animals in experimentation and education, and Law 9,605/1998 clearly states that use of the original animal test is not permitted, if an alternative method is available. Therefore, given the current legal framework, it is very important that all the Ministries involved with animal use, and the organisations responsible for funding researchers, strive to increase the financial support of those groups that are involved in the development and use of alternative methods in Brazil.
The time has come to plan for a future where the Three Rs will have served their purpose, animal experimentation will have been consigned to history, and humane biomedical science in research, testing and education will have become the norm, for the benefit of humans and animals alike.