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RISE contributes to the replacement of animal tests

04 September 2019, 08:48

In order to more easily detect endocrine disrupting chemicals and reduce the need for animal testing, new test methods are being developed. Researchers at RISE have successfully evaluated a new method for determining whether substances are endocrine disruptors. Now the new method is close to international adoption.

Instead of using animal experiments, this method is performed in vitro, with cells cultured in a laboratory environment.

- There are, of course, very strong ethical reasons for replacing animal experiments, but this work is also about finding better measurement methods. Experiments on animals are often poor at predicting effects in humans, says Kristina Fant, researcher at RISE.

Chemicals such as certain drugs and pesticides can disrupt the body's hormone balance and, among other things, lead to the development of cancer or affect the ability to have children. To be able to assess the risks of a chemical, it is necessary to identify among other things if it has any endocrine disruptive effect, and for the assessment to be reliable the test method that is used needs to be validated. A validation is a thorough evaluation of a method to assess its reliability and relevance for a specific purpose.

RISE is one of three European labs that, as members of the EU-NETVAL network, have validated a new method for detecting androgen-disrupting chemicals. Androgens are a group of hormones that are best known for their role in male sexual and reproductive development but they also have other important functions in both women and men. The study has been coordinated by the EU reference laboratory for alternatives to animal testing and has been very successful.

- You almost never see such good results. The method provided a high degree of reproducibility both within and between the different labs, says Emma Pedersen, researcher at RISE.

The positive outcome of the study means that the method is now undergoing a process for consideration for adoption as an OECD test guideline. If adopted, the method will be accepted in all OECD member states. The availability of such test guidelines makes it easier to make informed decisions regarding chemical safety. The method can also be further developed to assess finished products.

A validation study like this requires a lot of work and takes a long time. In addition, the participating labs must work according to the quality system GLP, Good Laboratory Practice. RISE's cell culture lab is alone in Sweden in offering GLP in vitro studies to external customers. The study has been funded by FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development.

The draft OECD test guideline can be found on the OECD website: https://www.oecd.org/env/ehs/testing/DRAFT-TG458-10-07-2019v2.pdf

For more information contact:

Emma Pedersen, RISE: +46 10 516 54 52 emma.pedersen@ri.se

Kristina Fant, RISE: +46 10 516 58 69, kristina.fant@ri.se