A three day workshop held in Italy by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, brought together initiatives from around the world for the first time to discuss animal-free safety assessment and develop opportunities for cooperation could aid in the abolishment of animal testing.
Back in March, the European cosmetics industry upheld a ban on animal testing which has caught the eye of other markets around the world, and the workshop hopes to continue development towards an animal free testing environment.
Principal scientists from the USA’s Tox21 initiative and SEURAT-1 in Europe in the field discussed human-relevant in vitro methods, ultra-high throughput screening, bioreactors for tissue based testing, chemo-informatics, biophysical modelling for toxicity prediction, and reference chemical selection for system development and validation.
Time was also dedicated to discussing efforts underway in developing decision-making frameworks for chemical safety assessment using novel data sources that address different regulatory needs.
Professor Krzysztof Maruszewski, director of the JRC's Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, gave the keynote address acknowledging the considerable scientific challenge of predicting the potential toxicological effects of chemicals in humans instead of having to relying on observing adverse effects in animal experiments.
However he expressed his optimism of what the future holds due to the recent scientific advances being made in the field and the willingness of research consortia such as SEURAT-1 and Tox21 to work together to achieve greater impact.
According to JRC-IHCP, the key outcome of the information exchange and discussion was a list of cooperation topics at both the technical level, including the sharing of research materials, such as data, cells, assays, computational models, and at the application level, by teaming up on predictive toxicity and safety assessment proof-of-concept case studies.
The five sessions at the workshop examined the ToxCast, Tox21 and SEURAT-1 research programmes and opportunities for cooperation between the USA and EU; the chemical inventories assembled for the three parties; an overview of the various in vitro assays and test systems that are being developed; a review of the various computational approaches being employed to make toxicity predictions; and how the output and efforts of this research can be best exploited for the purposes of chemical safety assessment.