Scientists from Eawag, along with researchers from the former Eawag spin-off aQuatox-Solutions and the National Institute of Biology in Slovenia, have won almost 800,000 Swiss francs in the second phase of a contest run by the British Centre for the Replacement of Animals in Research.
Countless chemical substances that are in daily use, such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, sooner or later find their way into rivers, lakes and groundwater. To ensure that they do not cause damage, they normally have to undergo an environmental risk assessment before they are approved – a procedure that tests how toxic a chemical is to various organisms in our natural environment, including fish. Numerous efforts worldwide are focused on making it possible to carry out such ecotoxicological tests without having to rely on live animals.
Building on an innovative concept
A new approach to replacing in vivo tests on fish is now being developed by Eawag, together with researchers from the former Eawag spin-off aQuaTox-Solutions and the Slovenian National Institute of Biology. After winning GBP 100,000 in Phase 1 of the “CRACK IT Challenge SAFE – innovative Safety Assessment of Fish adverse Effects” run by the British National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), the researchers have now been awarded an additional GBP 700,000 (around 800,000 Swiss francs) to bring the process to market. Phase 2 lasts three years and is supported by the Challenge Sponsors AstraZeneca, Bayer and Unilever. In developing the new test system, the scientists are relying on a concept that is not yet widely used in risk assessment: Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOP).