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China developing a roadmap to twenty-first century toxicity testing

At a special symposium last month in Xi’an, China, participants began to map China’s regulatory steps toward twenty-first century toxicology and away from animal testing.

The symposium, “TT21C/AOP China Roadmap,” was part of a conference on alternatives to animal tests in toxicology that was hosted by the Chinese Society of Toxicology’s Committee on Toxicological Alternatives and Translational Toxicology and the Chinese Environment Mutagen Society’s Committee on Toxicity Testing and Alternative Methods, and co-sponsored by the Humane Society International (HSI), Unilever, L’Oreal, and Shell. The symposium was convened “to address the need to increase Chinese regulatory uptake of currently available alternatives and the AOP paradigm.” Human Toxicology Project Consortium coordinator Dr. Catherine Willett was an invited speaker (a PDF of her presentation, “Use of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) to Reduce Uncertainty and Animal Use in Chemical Hazard and Risk Assessment,” is available).

During the symposium, a working team comprised of members from the host societies and representatives from Unilever, L’Oreal, HSI, and others was established to begin working on the twenty-first century toxicology “roadmap.” Asked about the team’s next steps in a Chemical Watch article (subscription required) about the symposium, Dr. Carl Westmoreland (Director of Science and Technology at Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, and a member of the working team) said the host committees will prepare a summary of the proceedings and circulate it to participants for review.

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HTPC member Unilever partners with the EPA to develop non-animal approaches to safety testing

Human Toxicology Project Consortium member Unilever announced Tuesday that it will be collaborating with the US Environmental Protection Agency on a project that will improve and advance human-relevant chemical safety assessment while phasing out the use of animals.

The project will create case studies around chemicals of mutual interest, using existing data from the Toxcast and Tox21 programs combined with Unilever’s data and methods for estimating consumer exposures, and testing new high-throughput screening methods that account for metabolism and more completely assess human biological pathways.

Quoted in the joint press release, Russell Thomas, Director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology, said that if the project is successful, “research from this collaboration will result in better ways to evaluate the potential human health effects of new ingredients and chemicals we currently know little about. …These methods could be used by both industry and governmental agencies to reduce the costs associated with safety testing and accelerate the pace of chemical risk assessment.” And Julia Fentem, Vice President of Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, said, “This research collaboration is strategically very important for Unilever’s long-held ambition to eliminate the need for any animal testing while also continuing to ensure the safety of consumers and our environment. If we had robust scientific tools to accurately and rapidly predict exposures to chemicals at the cellular and molecular levels within the human body, this would be a huge step forward in being able to conduct safety risk assessments without using animal data.”

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“L’Oreal at work on bioprinted skin for cosmetics testing”

5/21/2015 Update: News of the Organovo/L’Oreal partnership, posted here in December, seems to be captivating the wider press, now.  See especially these stories in the Washington Post, Bloomberg Business, and Wired UK.

In the span of just a few years, 3D-bioprinting (3D-printing of biological cell and organ components) has moved from the realm of science fiction to scientific reality – a technology capable of printing viable skin, liver, and other organ tissues that can be used for more human-relevant drug testing, disease-modeling, and even transplantation research.

This article from CosmeticsDesign.com highlights the collaboration between 3D-bioprinting pioneer Organovo and HTPC corporate partner L’Oreal, who are working together to create a bioprinted skin tissue that can be used in cosmetics testing:

L’Oreal at work on bioprinted skin for cosmetics testing.

(For more on Organovo’s bioprinting technology, watch this video.)

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Unilever’s pathway-based, non-animal approaches to toxicity testing

A new article by scientists at Unilever, a corporate member of the HTPC, describes several areas of safety science in which they are using a pathway-based approach to replace traditional animal tests with a combination of human cell-based in vitro assays and computational models.  The article, “Toxicity testing – non-animal approaches and safety science” (by Fiona Reynolds, Carl Westmoreland and Julia Fentem) is included in the current issue of The Biochemist: “Replacement in Research” (Vol. 36(3), June 2014).

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HTPC co-sponsors training in non-animal cosmetics testing

HTPC is co-sponsoring an important training program coordinated by the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) and Humane Society International (HSI), to introduce Chinese scientists and regulators to non-animal methods for cosmetics testing.  As part of the program, scientists will receive hands-on training in state-of-the-art in vitro methods that replace traditional tests on rabbits and guinea pigs.

Organized through China’s Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, HSI and the IIVS’s training aims to help fill this knowledge gap, making the option to move away from animal testing a practical alternative. China’s consumer and science sectors have much to gain from such a transition – animal toxicity tests are some of the least scientifically credible methods still in use. Indeed, when you consider the scale of uncertainty associated with some of these approaches, it’s astonishing that in so many countries and across so many sectors we’re still gambling consumer safety on methods that were devised in the 1940s.

Read more about the program in this article by Troy Seidle (HSI).

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