PETA science consortium donates $400K in VITROCELL in vitro test equipment

June 13, 2017

London — Today, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. announced that it is providing equipment to laboratories working on human-relevant methods to replace the use of animals in inhalation testing. Valued at more than $400,000, VITROCELL Systems inhalation exposure machines were awarded to four institutions in the U.S., U.K., and Belgium that are leading the field of in vitro (non-animal) inhalation toxicology. These donations complement the Consortium's recent workshops and webinars focused on replacing inhalation testing in animals.

In our daily lives, humans may inhale airborne substances, such as cigarette smoke or pesticides. Researchers have long studied the effects of inhaled materials, often by forcing animals to inhale the toxins and monitoring for signs of sickness or death. However, scientific and ethical concerns with using animals have inspired researchers to develop animal-free tests that use human cells to better predict what will happen following human exposure. The German-based VITROCELL makes equipment that can be used to expose human cells to a test material in an environment that mimics the human lung.

With the VITROCELL system, experts in cellular and computational methods at North Carolina-based ScitoVation will test the effects of cancer-causing compounds, and scientists at VITO NV, a Belgium-based research organization, will test the effects of nanomaterials on human lung cells. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh will use the equipment to further optimize a cell-based system designed to predict the development of lung fibrosis. The development of this system was also funded by the Consortium and took place in the Adolphe Merkle Institute at the University of Fribourg. A VITROCELL smoking machine and exposure system was donated to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to compare the effects of conventional and electronic cigarettes.

“In our work to replace animals in inhalation testing, we identified the need to provide researchers with these tools,” says Dr. Amy Clippinger, associate director of the PETA International Science Consortium. “We are pleased to provide this equipment to laboratories conducting human-relevant research that will protect humans and spare animals.”

Erin Hill, president of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, says, “We are grateful to the PETA Science Consortium for this specialized equipment which will allow us to assist industry and regulatory scientists to gather crucial data without using animals.”

The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. works to accelerate the development, validation, and global implementation of animal-free science. It was established in 2012 to coordinate the scientific and regulatory expertise of its members–PETA U.K., PETA U.S., PETA France, PETA Germany, PETA India, PETA Netherlands, PETA Asia, and PETA Australia. The Science Consortium and its members have donated more than $3 million to help companies reduce and replace animal use.

VITROCELL® Systems has extensive expertise in designing, producing, and installing customized in vitro exposure systems to fit specific research needs. It offers a variety of modules that can be used to test substances in cell-based systems.

Heriot-Watt University is an international research-led university with campuses throughout the world. Dr. Vicki Stone is the director of the Nano-Safety Research Group and professor of toxicology at its Edinburgh campus.

The Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc. is a nonprofit research and testing laboratory dedicated to the advancement of in vitro (non-animal) methods worldwide. Founded in 1997, IIVS has worked with industry and government agencies to implement in vitro testing strategies that provide key information for product safety and efficacy decisions.

ScitoVation develops innovative in vitro cell-based assays and computational approaches to assess potential health effects of drugs and chemicals. Traditional approaches rely on expensive, time-consuming testing in animals, whereas ScitoVation's solutions help customers achieve (1) faster, more cost-effective compound testing; (2) accelerated development of new products; and (3) better predictive tools for evaluating the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, food, chemicals and consumer products.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research NV) is an independent research organization that provides technological solutions to industry and public authorities. It also offers science-based advice and support in the research domains of energy, materials, chemistry, land use, and health in order to stimulate sustainable development. The research focus of its health department is in the field of sustainable health and disease prevention, with a focus on safe, effective, and/or personalized technological innovations. Nanomaterial safety assessment is an integral part of VITO-Health's technology development and contract research program. Risk assessment along the life cycle of nanoproducts as part of a safe-by-design approach and integrated testing strategies is key in these activities.

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