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Soft-cell approach cuts animal tests

cal industries.

The in vitro method "opens new possibilities for toxicity testing of industrial chemicals, environmental contaminants, workplace airborne contaminants, and fire combustion products", says Dr Hayes.

The technique has several advantages over conventional tests:

  • The use of human cells (as opposed to animal cells) generates data representative of direct human chemical exposure.
  • A number of human cell types such as lung, skin and liver can be used to represent target organs that are more likely to be significantly exposed or affected by air pollutants. As the respiratory system is both a site of toxicity for pulmonary toxicants, and a pathway for inhaled chemicals to reach other organs, relevant airway cells and lung cells are a major focus for inhalation studies.
  • The advantage of using human cell lines and cultures is that the researcher can study toxicity mechanisms at the molecular/cellular level at an earlier stage specifically for individual chemicals, depending on their site of action within the human body without using animals. For example, when assessing the toxicity of formaldehyde, which is known to have a toxic effect on the liver, liver type cells such as hepatocytes can be chosen.
  • The in vitro technique is cheap and portable, so scientists can measure immediate toxicity events, rather than waiting for toxicity to be expressed as organ or organism failure many months or even years down the track from initial exposure.
  • The application of in vitro methods could open new possibilities for toxicity testing of industrial chemicals, occupational and environmental contaminants, combustion products and respiratory therapeutics and lead to a better understanding of the interactions between chemical exposure and toxic effects of single chemicals and chemical mixtures.

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Source:University of New South Wales


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