Department Environmental Toxicology

Development of in vitro methods to predict fish reproductive toxicity

Environmental risk assessments are performed to protect our natural environment while maximising benefits that chemicals offer to all aspects of life. Traditionally, these assessments are animal-centric, e.g., fish are used and sacrificed in toxicity studies to identify adverse outcomes elicited by chemicals. These procedures raise ethical concerns but, additionally, are too slow and insufficiently informative to keep up with the rapidly growing need to test chemicals for potential harm. Alternatives to these tests are therefore urgently needed.

Our vision is to build an alternative fish framework, which combines permanent fish cell cultures and computational models, to allow accurate predictions of chemical impact without the need for animal experimentation. Pursuing this vision, we have previously demonstrated that it is possible to use cell lines from Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to predict the impact of chemicals on fish survival and growth. Within the scope of the CRACK-IT challenge issued by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R) we propose to expand these concepts to allow predictions of reproductive toxicity.

To accomplish this, we have developed a novel multistage computational pipeline that allowed identification of key molecular players and processes in fish reproductive toxicity. We will now exploit them to develop scalable biomarker response assays in relevant fish cell lines and incorporate these responses into a computational scheme to translate the cell-based information into an outcome for fish. The end goal of this project is to provide wide access to the knowledge gained and services/products developed to ensure maximal benefits to the 3Rs.


Dr. Roman Li Postdoctoral Scientist Tel. +41 58 765 6721 Send Mail

Team member

Prof. Dr. Kristin Schirmer Head of department Tel. +41 58 765 5266 Send Mail