Zebrafish in toxicity testing
Zebrafish are increasingly recognised as a useful model for toxicity testing of chemical substances. Testing strategies are becoming more based on mechanisms of toxicity structured in adverse outcome pathways describing the chain of events leading to toxicity or disease. Using a battery of dedicated in vitro and in silico assays, insight can be gained in how exposure leads to disease. For certain diseases it is known that toxicity relies on the interaction between different organs and cell types, which requires research on whole organisms in addition to simple in vitro models. The zebrafish is considered a valuable whole organism model in a mechanism-based testing strategy. At RIVM, the zebrafish embryo model is used for testing the effect of chemical substances on several adverse outcomes and diseases. For more information see: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP9888; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136717; www.linkedin.com/in/harm-heusinkveld
Using skin and mucosa models to replace animal testing
The skin and mucosa are important tissues that differ between species in health and disease. The group of Sue Gibbs works on the development of advanced in vitro models that mimic these two tissues, specialising in immunity models and organ-on-a-chip technologies. They use skin models to study for example melanoma, skin allergies, eczema, burns and healing wounds. Dental models are used for the safety of materials used in dentistry, for example to test the quality of the implant and false tooth when it comes to attaching to the soft tissue. Their ambition is to expand into the field of multi-organ technology to make even more relevant models for the human skin and mucosa. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Sue he[https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/using-skin-and-mucosa-models-to-replace-animal-testing]re.
Transition beyond animal welfare
This video explains what the programme TPI (Transition Programme for Innovation without the use of animals) is about.
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School)
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School, Animal Law & Policy Program)
Using data and computational modelling in biomedical research
Bioinformatics and systems biology hold great promise to translate the wealth of biological data into meaningful knowledge about human health and disease. The group of Bas Teusink helps biologists to deal with high throughput data, for example metabolomics (how cell metabolism works) and proteomics (how protein networks work) from patient material or cell cultures. This can help to better understand disease mechanisms and aid drug targeting or personalised medicine. In the future, combining data from different models (in vitro, in vivo and human data) could become a digital model of humans, or a “ digital twin”. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Bas (and Jaap Heringa) he[https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/using-data-and-computational-modelling-in-biomedical-research]re.
Daniela Salvatori: TPI Utrecht
Prof. dr. Daniela Salvatori, chair of TPI Utrecht, presents the aims of the local TPI group and invites all who want to share their ideas or questions on the transition towards animal-free innovations to get in touch via uu.nl/tpi.
Biotransformation of two proteratogenic anti-epileptics in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo has gained interest as an alternative model for developmental toxicity testing, which still mainly relies on in vivo mammalian models (e.g., rat, rabbit). However, cytochrome P450 (CYP)-mediated drug metabolism, which is critical for the bioactivation of several proteratogens, is still under debate for this model. Therefore, we investigated the potential capacity of zebrafish embryos/larvae to bioactivate two known mammalian proteratogens, carbamazepine (CBZ) and phenytoin (PHE) into their mammalian active metabolites, carbamazepine-10,11-epoxide (E-CBZ) and 5-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-5-phenylhydantoin (HPPH), respectively. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to three concentrations (31.25, 85, and 250 μM) of CBZ and PHE from 51⁄4 to 120 hours post fertilization (hpf) at 28.5°C under a 14/10 hour light/dark cycle. For species comparison, also adult zebrafish, rat, rabbit and human liver microsomes (200 μg/ml) were exposed to 100 μM of CBZ or PHE for 240 minutes at 28.5°C. Potential formation of the mammalian metabolites was assessed in the embryo medium (48, 96, and 120 hpf); pooled (n=20) whole embryos/larvae extracts (24 and 120 hpf); and in the microsomal reaction mixtures (at 5 and 240 minutes) by targeted investigation using a UPLC–Triple Quadrupole MS system with lamotrigine (0.39 μM) as internal standard. Our study showed that zebrafish embryos metabolize CBZ to E-CBZ, but only at the end of organogenesis (from 96 hpf onwards), and no biotransformation of PHE to HPPH occurred. In contrast, our in vitro drug metabolism assay showed that adult zebrafish metabolize both compounds into their active mammalian metabolites. However, significant differences in metabolic rate were observed among the investigated species. These results highlight the importance of including the zebrafish in the in vitro drug metabolism testing battery for accurate species selection in toxicity studies.
Respiratory toxicity using in vitro methods
The airways form a barrier for inhaled compounds, however, such compounds may cause local effects in the airways or may lead to lung diseases, such as fibrosis or COPD. Cell models of the respiratory tract, cultured at the air-liquid-interface (ALI) are a relevant model to assess the effects of inhaled compounds on the airways. Such models allow human relevant exposure, which is via the air, and assessment of effects on the epithelial cell layer. At RIVM we use air-liquid-interface cultured cell models and expose these to airborne compounds to assess the effects of agents such as nanomaterials, air pollutants or compounds from cigarette smoke. By using a mechanism-based approach to assess the effects of these compounds we invest in animal-free alternatives that better predict adverse effects in humans.
Brett Lidbury (The Australian National University)
Brett Lidbury is associate professor at the Research School of Population Health of The Australian National University. He applies machine learning to make predictions about health using human big data rather than animal experiments. For more information, go to www.anu.edu.au and search “Lidbury”.
Katja Wolthers (Amsterdam UMC) - virus research in human models: let's show some guts!
To study viruses that make people sick, we often use laboratory animals. However, virus infections in animals are different than in humans. New 3D culture models or 'organoids', which look like human organs in a petri dish, offer a unique opportunity to investigate how viruses enter the human body and cause disease. Our research focuses on enteroviruses such as polio. Due to vaccination, polio is rare, but other enteroviruses are increasingly a threat to young children and patients with impaired immune defenses. There are no medications available, because knowledge about infections with enteroviruses is limited. In our research we use organoids to see how enteroviruses enter the human body and by which means you can prevent that, without the use of laboratory animals. With this project we want to show that our technique can replace the use of laboratory animals in virus research.
Elly Hol (UMC Utrecht): possibilities for neuroscience
Prof. dr. Elly Hol (neuroscientist) talks about the opportunities for conducting animal-free research in Utrecht. She explains why it is necessary to use animal models next to cell-based models, for example for her Alzheimer research.
Avatar Zoo - teaching animal anatomy using virtual reality
Animals are essential to train the next generation of scientists understand diseases and develop treatments for humans as well as animals. Therefore, animals are used for educational purposes. Technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be employed to reduce the number of animals in the future. Prof. Dr. Daniela Salvatori is working on the development of 'Avatar Zoo' together with UMCU and IT. Live animals are replaced by holographic 3D in this flexible platform. With these holograms one is able to study the anatomical, physiological and pathological systems and processes of all kinds of animals. Avatar Zoo won the Venture Challenge 2021 for the development of virtual reality models that can be used for anatomy classes and practical training.