Paradigm shift: Away from animal testing and towards a deeper understanding of how chemical substances work
The number of test animals in Germany has been largely stable for years: tests were conducted in 2,825,066 animals in 2018. Animal studies are also necessary for examining the safety and toxicity of chemical substances. As the head of the Department of In-silico Toxicology at the Fraunhofer ITEM, Dr. Sylvia Escher is looking for alternatives to animal testing.
“At our institute, we work with several groups on new concepts for chemical risk assessment,” the chemist explains. She mentions the EU-ToxRisk project as one example. Cultures of human cells and organ sections are meant to offer alternatives to animal testing. A total of 39 partners from 13 countries are working together in the EU-ToxRisk project, which has been ongoing since 2016 and has a budget of more than 30 million euros. In addition to universities, research institutes and companies, regulatory authorities are also taking part in the project – an important factor in the success of the undertaking. Because of animal testing can only truly be replaced if the national and EU authorities approve the newly developed processes for determining toxicity.