What happens when a cell is exposed to a harmful substance? The reactions that occur are often very specific and provide an indication of how the substance works.
Swift identification of harmful substances
Examining gene expression (toxicogenomics) or specific, easily measurable reactions (e.g. via fluorescent cells), enables us to analyse the mechanism and swiftly identify harmful substances.
In the laboratory, we use human cells or artificial tissues to make refined, accurate measurements of the effects on specific tissues and processes. The results are promising and they give us new insight into the way that toxic substances work.
Replacing experiments on animals
Devising and validating toxicological tests to replace the current tests carried out on animals is a complex process. One of the reasons is that several additional in vitro methods are needed to replace a single animal experiment and compile a reliable safety assessment. A recent publication shows that the combined results of a series of different in vitro tests can predict the impact on animals and humans. In fact the in vitro strategy developed to demonstrate the effects of oestrogen has several advantages over the current standard animal experiments. We hope that these results mean that in future, the results of similar in vitro test strategies will be accepter sooner at an international level.