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JRC supports the use of stem cells for non-animal approaches to regulatory toxicity assessment

Cell culture on plate Cell culture on plate
©EU, 2017
Feb 23 2017

New publication summarises the outcome of a workshop organised by the European Partnership of Alternatives to Animal Testing (EPAA) on the use of stem cell-derived in vitro test systems in toxicology.

JRC scientists, in close collaboration with academic, industrial and international organisations, came together at an EPAA workshop in 2015 to discuss the state-of-the-art in the use of stem cells-derived systems in toxicology, with a focus on industrial applications to ensure human safety and to fulfil regulatory requirements. As a result, a study has been recently published outlining the main outcomes of the workshop in light of supporting the use of stem cells and stem cell-derived systems.

Commonly used in vitro systems, such as primary cell cultures and cell lines, often fail to adequately reproduce the in vivo situation as they often lose differentiated functionality. In contrast, stem cells are capable of dividing indefinitely and have the potential to differentiate into any cell type, offering an unlimited and consistent source of cells for in vitro toxicology.

Stem cells and stem cell-derived systems, including induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), have been shown to provide easily accessible physiological cell cultures that are amenable to a variety of in vitro applications. Nevertheless, there is a need to ensure that developers clearly demonstrate that such methods are robust, reliable and deliver information that not only satisfies industrial needs but which also supports regulatory safety decisions.

The application of stem cell-derived systems in toxicity assessment plays a key role in the reduction and replacement of animal studies. However, focused research is still necessary to accelerate implementation of stem cells in an industrial setting and subsequent use of such systems by regulatory authorities.

Read more in: L. Suter et al.: "Stem Cell-Derived Systems in Toxicology Assessment", Stem Cells and Development 24 (2015) 1284-1296, doi:10.1089/scd.2014.0540