The fish cell line assay is the world’s first alternative to experiments with live fish. The new OECD guideline allows companies to use fish cell line testing for product development and as part of the dossiers for chemical approval. “There is great interest on the part of industry in non-animal tests,” confirms Professor Kristin Schirmer, Head of Department at Eawag, who together with Melanie Fischer (also at Eawag), has taken the lead in driving this pioneering work forwards. Because on the one hand, the demands on environmental risk assessment are growing, and on the other hand, the number of new chemicals and products that need to be tested is constantly increasing. In addition, the fish cell line assay also conserves resources. The miniaturisation through the use of cells allows chemicals, water and time to be saved.
“There is great interest on the part of industry in non-animal tests.”
Kristin Schirmer assumes that the regulatory authorities, such as the ECHA in Helsinki or the US EPA in the USA, will increasingly accept the fish cell line assay as an equivalent substitute to the regular fish test: “The OECD recommendation was the last important step from our side, after our method had already been certified by ISO two years ago. This should mean that nothing more stands in the way of an animal-free approval procedure.”
In this way, Eawag contributes to the further development of toxicology and makes a significant contribution to the reduction of animal testing. This is because in 2019, tests were carried out on almost 8,000 fish in Switzerland alone for ecotoxicological tests.