15 Nov 2012

JRC team wins first Lush science prize for non-animal safety testing

Photo from the lab
Winning team member working with high-throughput screening system
© EU, 2012

A JRC team today receives the first Lush Science Prize for their pioneering work on non-animal chemical safety testing at an awards ceremony in London.

The new annual Lush Science Prize, a joint project between the global handmade cosmetics company and Ethical Consumer magazine, is designed to bring forward the date when ingredients for cosmetics and household products are no longer tested on animals.

A key part of the prize is to reward 'outstanding contributions' to 21st Century Toxicology – a new approach to chemical testing. Using recent advances in genetics and computer science it aims at improving the prediction of the potential toxicity of a substance without animal testing.

The winning team designed and demonstrated a high-throughput screening system to categorise chemicals based on their potential to cause liver toxicity. The approach is based on using in-depth knowledge of toxicological processes to identify key biological events that can be captured in a suite of specially tailored in vitro assays.

The jury found that this research produced some novel key results to solve the jigsaw puzzle that represents our understanding of the human reaction to chemicals and that the study of liver toxicology, a very important aspect in safety testing, is right in the centre of animal-free safety testing

Prof. Maurice Whelan, head of the Systems Toxicology Unit and the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM), expressed his appreciation for the recognition this award brings and stated that the prize money - £50.000 - will be used to further work in the area.

The Lush Prize is designed to reward groups or individuals working in the field of cruelty-free scientific research, awareness-raising and lobbying to help bring to an end to animal testing. Its £250,000 annual prize fund – the biggest prize in the non-animal testing sector – seeks to focus pressure on safety testing for consumer products in a way which complements projects already addressing alternatives to the animal testing of medicines.