Animal-Free Inhalation Testing? Talk About a Breath of Fresh Air

Posted by on September 3, 2018 | Permalink

Many leading scientists and companies are realising that scientific progress depends on leaving behind useless experiments on animals and embracing efficient computational models and cutting-edge human cell–based testing systems that provide more reliable results. That’s why PETA and PETA US, which are part of the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. (the Consortium), are working with industry, academia, and government agencies to advance non-animal inhalation techniques.

Currently, animals are squeezed into narrow tubes in which they’re immobilised and forced to inhale toxic substances for hours on end before they’re killed and their bodies are dissected. The Consortium is working to replace these tests by publishing papers in leading scientific journals about animal-free methods, hosting informative webinars, and awarding researchers the latest research equipment to help advance their non-animal inhalation work.

Doing It ‘Write’: Publishing in Leading Journals

Earlier this year, Consortium scientists spearheaded an article detailing ways to replace animals in inhalation tests. The report, which is based on recommendations from a 2016 workshop that was co-hosted by the Consortium, was published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro.

The Consortium co-authored the report with the US Environmental Protection Agency, The Dow Chemical Company, Syngenta, British American Tobacco, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

More recently, in another heavy-hitting collaboration, Consortium scientists partnered with leading universities, corporations, and government agencies – including Cardiff University and the United States Department of Defense – to publish a report that details methods of studying the toxic effects of inhaled substances using animal-free approaches instead of causing animals to suffer. The non-animal approaches discussed include computer modelling and the use of 3-dimensional tissues to test substances in ways that mimic realistic human exposure.

A Consortium scientist even guest-edited a special issue of the prestigious journal Applied In Vitro Toxicology. The special issue features the work of prominent researchers from industry, government, academia, and non-profit organisations and highlights their innovative approaches to determining the hazards of inhaled substances, including computer modelling and using 3-dimensional human tissues and human lungs-on-chips. You can learn more about the work of these researchers to advance modern, humane science in the June 2018 issue.

Showing the Way: Hosting Online Webinars

Organisations including 3M, The Dow Chemical Company, and Philip Morris International partnered with the Consortium to produce a 17-part free webinar series highlighting modern non-animal testing approaches to assess the toxicity of inhaled substances. Each of these forward-thinking companies is working to reduce and replace the use of animals in inhalation testing and encouraging other companies to do the same.

With input from the makers of intelligent non-animal research tools, including AlveoliX, Epithelix, MatTek, and VITROCELL, the series provides researchers worldwide with an understanding of the use of non-animal approaches to produce reliable, human-relevant data.

© Epithelix

The Winning Formula: Awarding Equipment to World-Leading Institutions

• To help researchers conduct non-animal inhalation testing, the Consortium provided four pioneering laboratories around the world with inhalation testing devices – worth more than US$400,000 – that do not use animals.
• The recipients included researchers at Edinburgh-based Heriot-Watt University, who are using the equipment in a Consortium-funded project to develop a non-animal method for predicting lung fibrosis in humans.
• To ensure that the method for predicting lung fibrosis is human-relevant, the Consortium is also funding MatTek Corporation to design a human lung tissue model that will be used in the fibrosis studies.
• Last but not least, the Consortium and Epithelix have joined forces to offer researchers an opportunity to win free human lung tissue models. These can be used to test many different materials and will be used in research that replaces the use of animals in inhalation testing.

The Consortium is thrilled to work with forward-thinking scientists in academia, industry, and government who are ushering in new, more human-relevant toxicity testing methods that both protect human health and spare animals’ lives.

These collaborations are critical to ensure that any new approaches developed will be more readily accepted by the industries that conduct the research and the regulatory agencies that require that testing be conducted.

What You Can Do

European Union Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes is clear – one of the EU’s ultimate objectives is to replace all experiments on animals. Shamefully, Britain has yet to commit to this important goal in its own national legislation – and as Brexit fast approaches, the UK government is running out of time.

Urge the government to commit to ending all experiments on animals: