The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2015

Introduction by Ada Kolman & lecture text by Michael Balls

A personal, and therefore unavoidably biased, review is given, of the significance of the contributions made by selected Scandinavian individuals, organisations and events, to the development of in vitro toxicology procedures as potential replacements for toxicity tests in laboratory animals. In addition to their wider significance, these contributions had a profound effect on whatever contributions I have been able to make, myself. Nevertheless, while there has been much progress in the last 35 years or so, and many lessons have been learned, there is still much to be done, especially as animal tests remain entrenched as the preferred methods which set the gold standards and make regulators feel comfortable. Many of the clues to dealing with the questions and concerns which plague hazard prediction and risk assessment have long been available, but they have been ignored, largely for reasons which have little to do with the science of toxicology and the need to maintain the highest scientific standards. I have little doubt that Björn Ekwall, whose memory I feel privileged to honour, would have agreed with that last statement.
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The Integrated Acute Systemic Toxicity Project (ACuteTox) for the Optimisation and Validation of Alternative In Vitro Tests

Cecilia Clemedson, Ada Kolman and Anna Forsby

The ACuteTox project is designed to replace animal testing for acute systemic toxicity, as is widely used today for regulatory purposes, by using in vitro and in silico alternatives. In spite of the fact that earlier studies on acute systemic toxicity demonstrated a good correlation between in vitro basal cytotoxicity data (the 50% inhibitory concentration [IC50]) in human cell lines and rodent LD50 values, and an even better correlation between IC50 values and human lethal blood concentrations, very few non-animal tests have been accepted for general use. Therefore, the aim of the ACuteTox project is to adapt new testing strategies, for example, the implementation of new endpoints and new cell systems for toxicity screening, organ-specific models, metabolism-dependent toxicity, tissue absorption, distribution and excretion, and computer-based prediction models. A new database, AcuBase, containing descriptions and results of in vitro tests of the 97 reference chemicals, as well as the results of animal experimentation, and human acute toxicity data, will be generated within the framework of ACuteTox. Scientists from 13 European countries are working together and making efforts to find the most appropriate testing strategies for the prediction of human acute systemic toxicity, and also to select a robust in vitro test battery for cytotoxicity testing of chemicals.
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