MRC scientist at Leicester provides expert view

A scientist based at our University has provided expert reaction to alternative for animals during toxicity testing.

Studies which assess the toxicology of new drugs typically have some element of animal testing, and a paper published in the journal Nature Communications has described a method using in vitro tests which are carried out without animals. The authors report that these tests were better than animal models at predicting toxicity of drugs to humans.

The Science Media Centre sought expert opinion from scientists across Britain – including Leicester.

Professor Andy Smith (pictured), Senior Scientist at the MRC Toxicology Unit, said: “The paper by Huang et al details impressive comparative work that has been known to be ongoing as collaborations between US public institutions.

“The results are a demonstration of how careful systematic multi in vitro toxicity endpoints and large, wide ranging examples of candidate chemicals at more than one exposure level, can be used to screen and predict for potential human toxicity. As the authors describe this could greatly aid in prioritisation of chemicals, especially in the developments of drugs, for further in-depth testing and understanding mechanisms of toxicity.

“These processes will still need in vivo toxicity investigations as will data for risk assessment exercises for food and environmental exposure. Probably the greatest gains will be in decreased costs and time in streamlining and prioritizing processes for drug development.”