Mittwoch, 08 September 2010 15:50

Impressionen des Linzer Kongresses zu Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten 2010

Der Kongress, in diesem Jahr die bedeutendste internationale Veranstaltung im Bereich der 3R, fand vom 2.-4. September in Linz/Österreich statt. Der Kongress war eine Gemeinschaftsveranstaltung der European Society for Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV) und der European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EUSAAT) und war damit gleichzeitig der 16. Internationale Kongress über In Vitro Toxikologie, der 13. Kongress von EUSAAT und der 16. Kongress über Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten.

 

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Spezial über die bedeutendste internationale wissenschaftliche Veranstaltung
des Jahres 2010 im Bereich der Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten

Impressionen des Kongresses Linz 2010


Einführung

Im September fand im österreichischen Linz der 16. internationale Kongress über Alternativen zu Tierversuchen statt, in diesem Jahr die bedeutendste internationale wissenschaftliche Veranstaltung in diesem Bereich. Der diesjährige Kongress war eine gemeinsame Veranstaltung der European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EUSAAT) und der European Society for Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV).

Wir haben Organisatoren, Referenten, Teilnehmer sowie einen Ehrenpreisträger zu bestimmten Fragestellungen interviewt. Die Interviews sind hier zu einem Spezial „Linz 2010“ zusammengestellt.

Die befragten renommierten Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler geben Einschätzungen zur Bedeutung der Tagung und den Perspektiven dieses Forschungszweiges für die Zukunft. Die Alternativmethoden zu Tierexperimenten haben neben ethischen Gesichtspunkten auch vom wissenschaftlichen Standpunkt aus höchste Relevanz. So wurden auf der Tagung unter anderem mehrfach die Artunterschiede ("Interspecies Differences") problematisiert.

Die Interviewten weisen auch auf
Defizite in der Ausbildung junger Wissenschaftler im Bereich der 3R-Methoden (Reduce, Refine, Replace: Verminderung, Verfeinerung und Ersatz von Tierversuchen) hin und geben Empfehlungen, die Curricula hinsichtlich der ethischen Gesichtspunkte sowie der Kenntnisse im Bereich der Alternativmethoden zu verbessern. Die geringe Teilnahme von Repräsentanten aus der Politik wurde bemängelt sowie Defizite auf internationaler Ebene bei der Koordination der Anwendung und Erforschung von Alternativmethoden.

Da die Interviews englischsprachig sind, geben wir diese nachfolgend im Originalwortlaut wieder.


Inhalt:

Bedeutung, Organisatoren und Themen des Kongresses

Aus dem Grußwort von Prof. Dr. Horst Spielmann, Präsident von EUSAAT und Repräsentant von ESTIV über die Organisation und Inhalte des Kongresses:
Significance, Organisers and Topics of the Congress
This Year's Conference


Einige Daten und über die Philosophie des Kongresses
Interview mit Helmut Appl, MSc, Generalsekretär von EUSAAT und Leiter des Kongressbüros:

Some Facts and about the Mission of the Congress
To get participants from different professions together”

Integration und Förderung von Nachwuchswissenschaftlern auf dem Kongress
Ein Ziel des Kongresses ist es, Nachwuchswissenschaftler zu integrieren, indem sie die Möglichkeit erhalten, ihre Ideen und Forschungsergebnisse zu präsentieren:

Integration and Promotion of Young Researchers at the Congress
Special recognition of young scientists, to stimulate exchange of information among students and to bring young and senior scientists together


Defizite in der Ausbildung von Studierenden in den Lebenswissenschaften
Interview mit Prof. Dr. Horst Spielmann, Präsident von EUSAAT und Repräsentant von ESTIV:

Desiderata in the Education of Students in Life Sciences
I do see a need to give this field a much higher priority in the education in the life sciences”


Präsentationen von Projekten und institutionen, Firmen und Produkten

In zwei Poster-Sessions wurden 166 Poster vorgestellt und rege diskutiert.

In einer Ausstellung konnten
Firmen ihre Produkte und Dienstleistungen präsentieren.
Presentations of Projects and Institutions, Companies and Products
Poster Session and Exhibition


Preise, um Alternativmethoden zu fördern

In einem feierlichen Festakt wurden auf dem Kongress mehrere Preise verliehen, die ESTIV-Preise, der Linz 2010 Posterpreis, der ALTEX-Preis, der Dieter Lütticken-Preis, der Preis der Doerenkamp-Zbinden-Stiftung sowie die Doerenkamp-Zbinden Ehrenmedaille:

Awards to Advance Alternatives
This Year´s Awards


Entwicklung hin zu Alternativmethoden
Interview mit dem Preisträger der Doerenkamp-Zbinden Ehrenmedaille, Prof. Dr. Walter Pfaller, Vizepräsident von EUSAAT:

Development Towards Alternative Methods
To unravel mechanisms at the level of the most relevant target cell in a much clearer way than using the complex model of a whole animal body


Bedeutende Unterschiede zwischen den USA und Europa
Interview mit Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Vizepräsident von EUSAAT, Direktor des Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT):

Strong Difference Between the US and EU
We need central steering for putting the different elements together


Alternativen zur Antikörperproduktion in Tieren sind verfügbar
Interview mit Dr. Alison Gray, ESTIV Generalsekretärin und
Beauftragte des Dr. Hadwen Trust, Leiterin der speziellen Sitzung zur Antikörperproduktion:
Alternatives for Antibody Production in Animals Available
Special session on antibody production: “To address the problem”


Engagement um REACH-Tierversuche zu verhindern
Interview mit Dr. Carlotta Casalegno, Toxikologin der European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) und der BUAV:

Engagement to Save Animals from REACH-Experiments
45 days to submit evidence or existing data to help waive testing with animals: participants for network wanted

Der Kongress aus Sicht eines Teilnehmers
Interview mit Dr. Stefan R.M. Fennrich, Klinisches Forschungslabor, Universität Tübingen, ein Entwickler von Alternativmethoden:

The Congress from the Viewpoint of a Participant
Thinking outside the box, discussing critically, working on visions




Significance, Organisers and Topics of the Congress

This Year's Conference

Prof. Dr. Horst Spielmann, President of the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EUSAAT) and Representative of the European Society for Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV) pointed out in his welcome address to the 16th Congress on “Alternatives to Animal Testing”, that this year the Linz Congress is the major international scientific event in the field of the 3Rs (Reduce, Refine, Replace).

The Congress was organized by (in alphabetical order) the European Society for Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV), the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EUSAAT), the Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing (zet) and about 10 co-organisers, and took place on 2nd – 4th September in Linz, Austria. The congress was held as a joint congress of ESTIV and EUSAAT so that the participants could join the 16th International Congress on In Vitro Toxicology, the 13th Annual Congress of EUSAAT and the 16th Congress on Alternatives to Animal Testing.

Several “Pre-Congress Meetings” sponsored by the European Commission, ESTIV and EUSAAT took place on Wednesday, 1st September.

EUSAAT is engaged in legal and ethical aspects of animal experimentation. Therefore the conference started with the topic “Legal, Ethical and Policy Topics Regarding Alternatives”. After that, there were sessions on “Metabolism and Toxicokinetics” and “Skin Sensitisation and Eye Irritation”. A joint activity of ESTIV and EUSAAT, “Good Cell Culture Practice” took place on the first day of the Congress, Thursday.

Two sessions on “Acute and Long Term Toxicity” were held on Friday, followed by a “Special Session on Antibody Production”, which was sponsored by the Dr Hadwen Trust (UK). The session “Nanotoxicology”, which was sponsored by Animalfree Research, CH-Zurich, included a round table discussion.

The third and final day, Saturday, covered the topics “Reproductive Toxicology and Stem Cells and closed with a session on “New Developments and Novel Methods”.

The organisers tried “to motivate young scientists by giving awards to young authors who present the most innovative and promising posters”, explained Prof. Spielmann on behalf of the organisers. In addition there were awards from funding institutions “to stimulate the reduction of animal experiments”.

[Reference: ALTEX Vol. 27, Supplement 2/10: Abstracts Linz 2010, p. 1]



Some Facts and about the Mission of the Congress

“To get participants from different professions together”

We interviewed Helmut Appl, MSc, appl communications & consulting e.U., Vienna/Austria, Secretary General of EUSAAT and head of the congress office.

InVitroJobs: Mr. Appl, can you tell us some facts about the congress? How many participants registered?

Appl: More than 300 participants from 30 nations including USA, from Europe to Japan, China and even Russia for the first time, who came with their own translators. Excluding the pre Congress meetings, 51 oral presentations were given. For the first time in 2010, we had state-of-the-art lectures at the beginning of each session, to introduce the topic, so that every participant could follow what all the others are doing and what methods others are working on, to explore possibilities to cooperate and to go home with new ideas.

And to get motivation to continue working with alternative methods?

Appl: Exactly, to get motivation too and to see that others have the same problems, are working into the same direction and that others are interested `in my work´.

What is the philosophy of the congress?

Appl: To get participants from different professions together: Philosophers, lawyers, natural scientists, computer professionals, biophysicists and others. Our goal is to have the main four stakeholders – industry, university, governmental authorities and animal protection – properly represented. In the past years there was only few participation from governmental authorities and from politics. More participation of representatives of these is necessary.

What is your desire for the next congress?

Appl: To get more time for the poster presentations. We had 166 accepted posters!

Thank you very much for the interview!

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The reception: Helmut Appl (second from right) and his team. Photo: Alzmann


Integration and Promotion of Young Researchers at the Congress

Special recognition of young scientists, to stimulate exchange of information among students and to bring young and senior scientists together

As the President of EUSAAT, Prof. Dr. Spielmann accentuated in his welcome address, it is an aim of the congress to integrate young scientists by giving them a platform upon which to present their ideas and achievements, to participate in fruitful discussions about their presentations, to hear valuable and helpful suggestions and to motivate them by announcing prices for outstanding and ambitious works. Therefore the European Society for Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV) together with Elsevier anounced a Young Scientist Award ESTIV 2010 “in recognition of excellence and to encourage young researchers for active dissemination of their work” [1]. This announcement was directed toward “young investigators”, who are defined as students working towards a Ph.D.

“To encourage active participation of undergraduate students in scientific fora and to stimulate exchange of information among students” [2], ESTIV announced 5 travel bursaries of 250 Euros each. Prof. Dr. Greet Schoeters, Program manager -VITO- , Dept. Biomedical Sciences, University of Antwerp/NL, Scientific Director- CARDAM and President of European Society for Toxicology in Vitro, explained: “We had a students' session where the students presented the aim of their work, the laboratory they worked in and some of their first results.” This session, which took place on Thursday, was chaired by Maria Laura Scarino from INRAN Research Institute in Italy. Four students were selected and invited as presenters:

Mariliis Sihtmae (National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Tallinn/Estonia) presented “A web based-database on the main publicy available sources of toxicity data published in Russian language”. Sihtmaes project was valued as a contribution to the REACH and 3Rs Topic, relevant to one of the main goals of animal replacement with in vitro techniques.

Georg Tascher (Biochemical Engineering, Saarland University, Saarbrücken/Germany) presented “Secretome analysis of primary human hepatocytes in 2D- and 3D-culture for in vitro toxicology”. Tascher´s work was valued in that he presented a very interesting new model in comparison with the one currently used, using secretome analysis.

Joery De Kock (Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels/Belgium, he is the third author of a lecture in session VIII), presentated “Evaluation of the multipotent character of human skin- derived precursor”. De Kocks work was also valued as a very interesting model and approach, involving also new perspectives for human health.

David Pamies (Bioengineering Institute, Migel Hernandez University, Alicante/Spain) presented “Silencing of neuropathy target esterase (NTE) causes changes in gene expression during the early stages of differentiation”. Pamies´ project was considered to be a very good work on molecular dissection of mechanisms of action of organophosporous compounds.

One of the selected students was awarded the best presentation in this students session.

[1] http://www.estiv.org/news.html#Award
[2] http://www.estiv.org/news.html#Bursaries

 


Desiderata in the Education of Students in Life Sciences

“I do see a need to give this field a much higher priority in the education in the life sciences

After the congress we asked Prof. Dr. Horst Spielmann, Faculty of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), President of EUSAAT and Representative of ESTIV some questions:

InVitroJobs: One goal of the congress is to motivate young scientists by awarding prizes to young authors who present the most innovative and promising posters. In addition the European Society for Toxicology In Vitro awarded the best oral presentation as well as the best poster presentation amongst the young scientists. Are you satisfied with the participation of young researchers?

Spielmann: At the Linz EUSSAT congresses we always try to keep the congress fee for young scientists very low. Therefore we are using the congress facilities of the university and a huge dormitory next to the university campus.  We are quite please that this year 20% of the participants were students and about 50% postdocs. 

Do you consider the promotion of young scholars in the field of non-animal research by public funding sufficient?

Spielmann: I am not aware of any public funding for young scientists in the field of alternatives in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and have no information about other European countries. 

Are young scientists, students of biology, medicine or veterinary medicine, in your view, adequately well informed and adequately educated in non-animal research methods?

Spielmann: In Berlin we have established courses on alternatives and the use of animals in the life sciences according to FELASA guidelines. We are holding courses in English for students and postdocs from abroad who are working in Germany, attendants come to Berlin from all over Germany. Thus there is a shortage of such courses in Germany. For details see the webpage of the “Berliner Kompaktkurse” [http://www.berliner-kompaktkurse.de/index.php?page=seminare].
Moreover, even in German Universities with Schools of Veterinary Medicine these courses are only being held for students of veterinary medicine and not for all students in the life sciences (e.g. biology and medicine), since there seems to be a shortage of colleagues, who are experienced in laboratory animal sciences. On the website of the German Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences – GV-SOLAS – there is information on such courses but not all universities are giving this important aspect of education of the life sciences a high priority.
Moreover in Germany there are no established courses to learn how to implement the 3Rs into research in the life sciences.

Do you see the need to increase the number of chairs for alternative methods and the number of training facilities to get expertise e.g. in in vitro techniques, to enhance the skills and experience of young and senior scientists?

Spielmann: I do see a need to give this field a much higher priority in the education of biology students and also of students of human and veterinary medicine. Establishing chairs is a very good first move. However, even the first chairs on alternatives in Germany, e.g. in Konstanz and at the THH Hannover, are focusing in the first place on high quality research and not on education in ethics and legal aspects.
At the Free University we are currently establishing an interdisciplinary “Graduate School for the 3Rs” in collaboration with the University Potsdam. We do hope that this will give the 3Rs a boost and allow students to get their PhD thesis in the field of the 3Rs.

Do you think that ethical aspects of research, especially in terms of using animals, are discussed in an adequate manner in the curriculum of students?

Spielmann: According to my experience these aspects are currently not covered sufficiently in the curricula of students in the life sciences.
In the field of life sciences all students and scientists, who are conducting animal experiments should be adequately educated according to FELASA and GV-SOLAS curricula. I am unhappy that no other scientific societies have to date approved similar recommendations.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Info:
Horst Spielmann is medical doctor and adjunct professor for regulatory toxicology at the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy of Freie Universität Berlin. He was awarded an “Official Patron of Animal Welfare in the Life Sciences
at the 7th World Congress on the Use of Animals and Alternatives in the Life Sciences, jointly with Professor Michael Balls from the University of Nottingham (UK) and Professor Alan Goldberg from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA). The scientists received this one-time recognition award for their achievements in turning "the reduction, refinement and replacement of experimental animals from an ethical issue and marginally scientific hobby into mainstream science, involving leading experts in life sciences around the globe". The three laureates have established at their respective research institutions the most prestigious centres for the development of alternative methods. These are the Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) in Berlin, the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) in Nottingham and the Center for Alternatives in Animal Testing (CAAT) in Baltimore. For over 20 years Horst Spielmann has devoted himself to researching alternatives to experiments with animals and he received several international awards for his pioneering work in this area. He was head of the ZEBET from its foundation in 1989 up to 2007.
[Reference: http://www.fu-berlin.de/]

 



Presentations of Projects and Institutions, Companies and Products

Poster Sessions and Exhibition

What was announced as "Coffee break and poster viewing" was really used to do that! There were excited dialogues, exchanges of addresses and engaged discussions with the authors of the posters. There were two poster sessions on Thursday and on Friday, to accomodate the great number of 166 accepted posters.

Several companies represented themselves and their products and services. Each company had its own presentation table or even an own booth.

 

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Great picture: Poster Session. Left small picture: A. Schmidt (right side) informing himself about the products and services of the exhibiting companies. Right small picture: Dr. des. N. Alzmann (left side) and Dr. H. Seibert discussing the poster of InVitroJobs. Photos: Schmidt, Alzmann



Awards to Advance
Alternatives

This Year´s Awards

The ESTIV award for the best presentation in the ESTIV Students Session was given to David Pamies (Bioengineering Institute, Migel Hernandez University, Alicante/Spain) for his presentation Silencing of neuropathy target esterase (NTE) causes changes in gene expression during the early stages of differentiation. The prize was 250 Euros.

The award of the European Society for Toxicology in Vitro and Elsevier Young Scientist Award for the best oral presentation
went to Nathalie Lambrechts (VITO-CARDAM, Mol/Belgium) for the lecture on "Assessment of chemical skin sensitizing potency by an in vitro assay based on human dendritic cells". The prize was 500 Euros and one year prescription to the Elsevier journal Toxicology in vitro.

The award of the European Society for Toxicology in Vitro and Elsevier Young Scientist Award for the best poster presentation
went to Mariliis Sihtmae (National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Tallinn/Estonia) for the Poster Mariliis Sihtmäe, Irina Blinova, Villem Aruoja and Anne Kahru: "Toxicological information on REACH-relevant chemicals published in Russian language". The prize was 500 Euros and one year prescription to the Elsevier journal Toxicology in vitro.


The Linz 2010 EUSAAT Poster Awards
were given to the authors of 3 posters
:

Felix Spöler
(Institute of Semiconductor Electronics, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen/Germany), Markus Frentz and Norbert F. Schrage (both from the Aachen Centre of Technology Transfer in Ophthalmology (ACTO), Aachen/Germany), for their poster: “Improving the sensitivity of organotypic in vitro assays for eye irritation testing: The Ex Vivo Eye Irritation Test (EVEIT)

Michael Gülden
and Hasso Seibert (both from the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel/Germany) for their poster: “Concentration or dose: What is the proper measure for quantitative in vitro-in vivo extrapolation of toxic potency?

Daniel Mueller
, Saskia Mueller, Georg Tascher (all three scientists from the Saarland University, Biochemical Engineering, Saarbruecken/Germany), Daniel Knobeloch (Department of General, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, Charité Campus Virchow Clinic, Berlin/Germany), Andreas K. Nuessler (Dept. of Traumatology, TU Munich, MRI, Munich/Germany), Elmar Heinzle and Fozia Noor (both from the Saarland University, Biochemical Engineering, Saarbruecken/Germany) for their poster: “Sensitive assessment of drug-induced changes in primary human hepatocyte metabolome using a combination of GC-MS and multivariate statistics”.


The ALTEX award for the 2009 main article in ALTEX was given to
Costanza Rovida, Private Consultant, Varese/Italy, for the article “Re-evaluation of animal numbers and costs for in vivo tests to accomplish REACH legislation requirements for chemicals - a report by the Transatlantic Think Tank for Toxicology (t4)” (ALTEX Vol. 26 3/09, p. 187-208).

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Dr. Dr. S. Schindler (left side) and C. Rovida (right side). Photo: Schmidt

Dr. Dr. Stefanie Schindler, President of the Society ALTEX Edition, Kuesnacht, Switzerland and scientific assistant at AnimalfreeResearch, Zürich, handed over the award about 2000 Swiss Francs, three year membership in EUSAAT and invitation to the congress in Linz.

Info:
ALTEX (Alternatives to Animal Testing)
is edited by the Swiss Society ALTEX Edition, and is the official journal of CAAT, the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, USA, EUSAAT, the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing, t4, the transatlantic think tank of toxicology (Baltimore, Utrecht, Konstanz) and the Doerenkamp chairs in Germany, India, The Netherlands, Switzerland and USA. The journal is devoted to the publication of research on the development and promotion of alternatives to animal experiments according to the 3R concept (Replace, Reduce, and Refine) as well as to the bioethics of the complex relationship between humans and animals.
[Reference: www.altex.ch/]


The Dieter Lütticken Award for development of in vitro bovine respiratory tract organ culture model goes to Dr. A.W. (Dan) Tucker, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge/United Kingdom.
Dr. René Aerts, Vice-President Research and Development of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, held the laudation and handed over the award.

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Dr. A.W. Tucker (left side) and Dr. R. Aerts (right side). Photos: Schmidt

Dr. A. W. Tucker is senior lecturer in veterinary public health at the University of Cambridge (UK) and receives the 2009 Dieter Lütticken Award about € 20.000 for the development of an in vitro air interface respiratory tract organ culture model for investigation of bovine respiratory diseases.
Dr. Tucker, in collaboration with Prof. Duncan Maskell at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge and Prof. Josh Slater at the Royal Veterinary College, London have established a physiologically relevant, rapid, and sensitive in vitro air interface respiratory tract organ culture model to analyze host-pathogen interactions following single and mixed infections with two respiratory pathogens.
The model has replaced the use of animals in some studies of respiratory disease and has the potential to be used in developing new vaccines. The work was supported by a grant in 2007 by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). The model reproduces the in-life conditions of key parts of the respiratory system and shows real promise for vaccine discovery when combined with emerging high-throughput screening technologies.

Info:
The Dieter Lütticken Award (DLA), sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, is an international annual award dedicated to alternatives in animal testing for veterinary medicines. The sponsor of the prize, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, is a member of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), a consortium of the European Commission, universities, NGOs and industry.
[Reference: Press Release Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, June 9, 2010]


The Award of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation was given to Michael Balls, CBE MA DPhil FIBiol, British zoologist and Emeritus Professor of Medical Cell Biology at Nottingham University, Nottingham/United Kingdom.
In his laudation for Prof. Dr. Balls, Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Vice-President of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, recognized the great importance of the two namesakes of the foundation, Hildegard Doerenkamp and Prof. Gerhard Zbinden.
Hartung introduced the awardee Michael Balls and his achievements and named him as “the godfather of alternatives”. Balls is dignified with the 25.000 Swiss Francs Prize for his lifework and achievements in the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), in the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) and with the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA).

Info:
Prof. Michael Balls has been Chairman of the Trustees of FRAME since 1981 and Editor of ATLA since 1983. From 1987-1995 he was a founder member of the Animal Procedures Committee (which advises the British Home Secretary on matters related to animal experimentation). Balls became the first Head of ECVAM (Ispra/Italy) in 1993, where he retired in 2002.
Related to his work Michael Balls has won a number of awards: In 1986 he received the first Marchig Animal Welfare Award of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). In 1994 he received the fourth Russell & Burch Award of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for his contributions to the advancement of alternative methods. In 1997 Balls received the fourth SmithKline Beecham Laboratory Animal Welfare Prize for outstanding contributions to the welfare of laboratory animals. In 1998, he was awarded the first Prix de la Fondation E. Naef pour la Recherche in vitro (jointly with Prof. Horst Spielmann). In 1999 he won the Michael Kay Award of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), in recognition of services to European animal welfare. In 2002 Michael Balls was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
[Reference: http://www.iivs.org/]

Info:

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation was created on the private initiative of the two namesakes, Hildegard Doerenkamp and Prof. Gerhard Zbinden, who died in 1993. The renowned toxicologist Zbinden, head of the Institute for Toxicology of the Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich in Schwerzenbach/Zurich, criticised the LD50-test. There was a legal requirement of determining the so-called lethal dosage (LD50) of every new medication. Zbinden rejected the painful killing of animals to test the safety of new drugs and also some chemicals. He had the viewpoint that these procedures carried only little weight in the appraisal of the dangers of active substances and chemicals. Hildegard Doerenkamp contacted Gerhard Zbinden in 1982 and told him of her wish to donate part of her wealth towards the improvement of the experimental animals’ lot. Doerenkamp began to support toxicological research at Prof. Zbinden’s institute. The discussions between the lay-person and the scientist resulted in new perspectives for the scientist. One point was, that animals which are under stress or feel pain show different patterns of behaviour and performance than under conditions of a stable, calm and safe environment.
[Reference: http://www.doerenkamp.ch/]

This year the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Medal of Honour was also awarded, which has, to date, only been awarded twice: In 1996 to Hildegard Doerenkamp and in 2007 to Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission.


The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Medal of Honour was awarded to Prof. Dr. Walter Pfaller, MD, Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Innsbruck/Austria and Vice-President of EUSAAT.
In his laudation Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Vice-President of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, honoured Prof. Dr. Walter Pfallers merit in the field of alternative methods. Outlying the regular announcement of the DZ-Award the Foundation Board wanted to honour the lifework of Walter Pfaller with this recognition award.

 


Development Towards Alternative Methods

To unravel mechanisms at the level of the most relevant target cell in a much clearer way than using the complex model of a whole animal body

After the congress we asked Prof. Dr. Walter Pfaller, MD, Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Innsbruck/Austria and Vice-President of EUSAAT some questions.

InVitroJobs: Prof. Pfaller, congratulations for your decoration with the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Medal of Honour! The Congress on Alternatives on Animal Testing in Linz has been established for exchange in the field of research many years ago and is one of the most important platforms in this area. Is it possible to observe a positive outcome in advancing the development and implementation of alternative methods by the presentations of the work of the participants and by the exchange of researchers from universities, stakeholders from industry and politicians?


Pfaller: The Linz congress has become the most important platform in Europe where an exchange of knowledge in the field of alternatives occurs. This applies not only for scientists working in the field, but also for regulators and the colleagues from animal welfare, who are dealing with legal or educational matters. The influence of the Linz meetings on the dissemination of knowledge and the further development of alternative methods is very important. Ideas like the establishment of the Good Cell Culture Practice and the Declaration of Bologna have been born at the Linz meetings.
We think that these meetings have had a sustainable effect on scientific development of alternatives, the transfer of alternative methods to the regulators and hopefully to politicians. The revision of directive 609/86 might be seen in that context.

Do authorities – competent authorities for authorisation of animal experiments as well as authorities for registration of products like pharmaceuticals – and politicians – which define the legal framework of research – recognize the importance of this congress?

Pfaller: Some do, as we have always tried to invite representatives from competent authorities to either contribute to the program or at least attend the congress as guests. This at least applies for Austrian, German and to some extent Swiss and UK competent authorities.

Do you see a rise in the number of single researchers, scientific institutions and industrial companies who act in the field of research with alternative methods?

Pfaller: Yes! There is currently a change of research towards alternative methods. That means that a much lower number of live animals will be used in the future, but their cellular materials will still be needed. Research not using any biological materials originating from animals or humans represents a very minor fraction of alternatives but nevertheless a very important one as in silico methods gain more and more relevance to predict side effects of pharmaceuticals or deleterious effects of chemicals from quantitative structure-activity-relationship (QSAR). The gain in importance of alternatives is mainly due to the fact that we currently experience a paradigm change specifically in toxicology from animal based techniques toward cell culture based approaches which allow the identification of changes in intra- and inter-cellular signalling pathways. Pharmacology and toxicology are currently changing toward mechanistic approaches, which need simple, practical and reliable models!

What was your initial motivation to work with alternative methods? What was your greatest success?

Pfaller: To unravel mechanisms of action of toxins or pharmaceuticals at the level of the most relevant target cell in a much clearer way than using the complex model of a whole animal body.

What is the take home message you would give to the participants of the 2010 Congress in Linz?

Pfaller: In vitro systems offer the possibility to clarify the mechanisms leading to diseases or to cell injury by toxins, chemicals or pharmaceuticals on the affected human target cells. This approach will thus be more relevant and perhaps even more predictive than animal experiments.

Thank you very much for the interview!

 

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Prof. Dr. W. Pfaller after the congress
with the actual ALTEX Supplement.
Photo: Alzmann



Strong Difference Between the US and EU

We need central steering for putting the different elements together

The session on "New Developments and Novel Methods" on Saturday was introduced by the state-of-the-art lecture “Lessons learned from alternative methods and their validation for a new toxicology in the 21st century” by Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Doerenkamp-Zbinden Professor and Endowed Chair for Evidence-based Toxicology and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), Baltimore, MD/USA, and Vice-President of EUSAAT. Thomas Hartung chaired the session together with Erwin Roggen, DK. After the conference we asked Prof. Hartung some questions:

InVitroJobs: What is the benefit for the participants of the conference?

Hartung: To get an overview over the field of alternatives across industrial sectors, research technologies, scientific areas and including ethics and politics. I think that especially policy is framing what we can do in research and it is politics again which makes it possible to apply what we have developed.

What is the main point you wanted to address with your introductory lecture?

Hartung: There is a strong difference between the US and EU situation and we need mechanisms like CAAT-EU [the recently formed joint venture between Johns Hopkins and the University of Konstanz, [1]] to create a bridge between the `two worlds´.

What are these differences?

Hartung: These differences are both the way things are regulated as well as the way new alternative approaches are being furthered. It is an important message for the conference that the US is at this moment embarking on new high-tech approaches for a new toxicology. In the US this development is much more coordinated while nobody is co-ordinating the multitude of European projects.

What do we need in Europe to meet this deficit?

Hartung: We need central steering for putting the different elements together. A central committee, a steering group, could be helpful to evaluate and systematically develop a strategy for the components lacking.

Some people see a gap between politicians on the one hand who define the legal framework of research - being not experts in scientific questions - and researchers, research-organizations and stakeholders from industry on the other. What might be helpful?

Hartung: It would be necessary for scientists to forget about their personal interests and to inform politicians neutrally and comprehensively to get the best solutions.

During the past three days at this conference some speakers stressed the interspecies differences between animals and humans in their talks. How do you see this problem?

Hartung: We see typically that different animal species do not predict each other better than 60 percent. We are not seventy-kilogram-rats! This is an argument to explore human cell cultures, where we are at least in the same species. Many species differences are already reflected on the cell level.

Thank you very much for the interview!

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Prof. Dr. Dr. T. Hartung (left side). Photo: Schmidt


Info:

Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD, was head of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), Ispra/Italy from 2002 to 2008, and was recently appointed to two positions at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md./USA: Director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), and the inaugural Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for Evidence-Based Toxicology in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition, he is honorary full professor at the University of Konstanz/Germany. Hartung was recently awarded the 2009 Russell & Burch Award of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at the 7th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Rome.

[1] Related further information: Daneshian, M., Leist, M. and Hartung, T. (2010): The Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing – Europe (CAAT-EU): a transatlantic bridge for the paradigm shift in toxicology. In: ALTEX Vol. 27 1/10, p.63-69.

 


Alternatives for Antibody Production in Animals Available

Special session on antibody production: “To address the problem”

Performing research and testing with in vitro methods reduces the number of animal experiments. However, antibodies are often used during analysis or purification and biomarker identification. The Dr. Hadwen Trust (DHT, UK) sponsored the “Special Session on Antibody Production”, which took place on Friday, 3rd September. The chair of the session, Dr. Alison Gray, ESTIV secretary and DHT Trustee, pointed out that the session wants to address the problem of the extensive use of animals for antibody production. Gray: “I wonder if we are replacing animal experiments by developing alternative techniques or simply hiding them.”

Three oral presentations gave an overview and showed the state of the art. Dr. Angray Kang, University of Westminster, School of Life Sciences, Dept. of Molecular and Applied Biosciences, Antibody Technology Group, London/UK, who held the lecture “Recombinant antibodies. Past, present and future”, pointed out that the technology to produce recombinant antibodies without using animals “has existed for two decades”. There are no animals involved in the discovery and no animals involved in the production of these antibodies. “There is a demand for centralized training facilities with hands-on training rather than 1-2 day workshops for users who want to implement the techniques in house”, states Kang.

We asked Dr. Gray about the actual problem. Gray: “At the moment there is no facility which provides a library of recombinant antibodies for research and development. The aim of the session was to raise awareness of the problem and to discuss possible ways to provide alternatives. Companies providing antibodies should start to embed this alternative technology, so that researchers could have the option to purchase animal free antibodies for their research, which are better from both an ethical and scientific viewpoint.”

The oral presentations were followed by a discussion to address existing barriers to implementation and accessibility of non-animal techniques. Prof. Dr. Bas J. Blaauboer, Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair on Alternatives to Animal Testing in Toxicological Risk Assessment, IRAS - Division of Toxicology, Utrecht University/NL, remarked that the Directive 609/86 EEC states that an animal technique should not be used when an alternative exists. Blaauboer: “One should discuss what would be the impact of the directive in this instance”.

 


Engagement to Save Animals from REACH-Experiments

45 days to submit evidence or existing data to help waive testing with animals: participants for network wanted

Dr. Katy Taylor, Scientific Coordinator of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV, London/UK), Dr. Carlotta Casalegno, toxicologist, BUAV, and Dr. Wolfgang Stengel, German Doctors Against Vivisection (DAAE), presented the poster “Animal testing issues during REACH Implementation”. We asked Dr. Casalegno some questions about their presentation.

InVitroJobs: Dr. Casalegno, what’s your background experience?

Casalegno: I am a biologist with a PhD in environmental sciences. I previously worked as a regulatory toxicologist for biocides, agrochemical and REACH dossiers and since April 2010 I have been working for the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) as a regulatory toxicologist on REACH, the new EU regulation for the registration of chemicals.

What does your organisation do?

Casalegno: The ECEAE is Europe's leading alliance peacefully campaigning on behalf of laboratory animals. We consist of 18 organisations based in 16 member states. We are campaigning against the use of animal testing under REACH and since 2008 we have taken part in the work of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) - the agency responsible for REACH - as a registered official stakeholder observer.

What’s the subject of your poster?

Casalegno: December 2010 is the deadline for the registration of high tonnage chemicals under REACH. Regardless of the animal protection measures within the legislation, recent estimates of the amount of animals that could be used under REACH range from 9 to 54 million animals. These figures are really staggering.
REACH includes animal protection measures such as the testing proposal system, in which animal tests for the high tonnage chemicals are proposed by the registrant rather than conducted. Interested parties have 45 days to submit evidence or existing data to help waive the testing before ECHA reaches a decision.
In the poster we present our preliminary findings on the first 15 testing proposals in order to illustrate how effective interested parties can be at serving the testing proposal facility.

What’s the aim of your work?

Casalegno: We use our scientific expertise to try to further reduce animal use through the testing proposal system. We submit scientific comments on the testing proposals as they come. These comments may be references to existing data on that substance or weight of evidence approaches that we believe should be used.

Are there other experts involved in this work?

Casalegno: We are not aware that anyone else from environmental or animal NGOs is working on this. The ECEAE has two full time toxicologists working on this, myself funded by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and another funded by German Doctors Against Vivisection (DAAE), both members of ECEAE. 

How is your work in practice?

Casalegno: We make a daily check of the ECHA web site and when testing proposals are published for a new animal test we start searching for existing information on the chemical. We have 45 days to build up our data waiving argumentations and submit them to ECHA.

How many chemicals you have checked?

Casalegno: Between August 2009-August 2010, we commented on all 15 testing proposals for 10 chemicals. 70% of the chemicals are new chemicals - sometimes with well-established chemical precursors - with unknown uses. Chemicals commonly used as household or industrial products plus fuel and plastic industry products are also represented.

Which is the main outcome of your work?


Casalegno: We were able to comment 100% of the testing proposals using different data waiving argumentations and in one case we were able to find key information the lead registrant who was not aware of. Following suggestions by ourselves, ECHA has published its own Practical Guidance on ‘How to avoid unnecessary testing on animals’ clarifying how alternatives can and should be used under REACH.
Our commenting ability is impaired by the lack of public information on the chemicals on the ECHA website (as there should be). In addition, processing times for ECHA decisions are very slow- only the first testing proposal from Aug 2009 has been decided by ECHA in June 2010 - they agreed both tests should be conducted, and no mechanism is yet in place to feedback to third-parties on the quality of their comments and the acceptability of alternative strategies.

What would be the best help for your work?

Casalegno: Our aim is to create a net work of scientific experts who could be of help in data waiving arguments or who have access to existing data on chemicals. We have activated an e mail address (Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!) for interested parties to contact us if they want to start receiving updates on testing proposals. Experts can decide if they have useful information, which we can then submit on their behalf, saving them from having to fill in a submission. If their information is useful they may be able to claim compensation from the company. Your portal InVitroJobs.com will be of great help for contacting all parties interested in collaborating on data waiving argumentations under REACH.

Thank you very much for the interview!

For interested persons in the poster please write an e mail to Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.

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Dr. des. N. Alzmann and Dr. C. Casalegno

 


The Congress from the Viewpoint of a Participant

Thinking outside the box, discussing critically, working on visions

Among the participants of the congress we met Dr. Stefan R.M. Fennrich, Clinical Research Laboratory, Paediatric Cardiac Surgery, Children’s Hospital at the University of Tübingen (Germany), a researcher working on the development of alternative methods using human blood in vitro models. We asked Dr. Fennrich some questions about the relevance of the congress for his work.

InVitroJobs: Dr. Fennrich, as a scientist and developer, what’s the significance of the Linz Congress in your opinion?

Fennrich: As a traditional institution the Linz Congress has developed a pioneering character in the successful implication of 3R and with that for the protection of animals.
It sparks the curiosity of students as well as international experts; it encourages learning and sets new impulses for promising projects.

For how long have you been following the congress as a participant?

Fennrich: I have been taking part in these congresses for more than 10 years now.

What is your personal gain from this congress?

Fennrich: The Linz Congress offers the unique possibility to plunge into the heterogeneous and complex world of alternative methods and to think outside the box and exchange ideas with international experts.

Do you consider the Linz Congress to have influence on research developments?

Fennrich: Yes, for me the in-vitro pyrogentest, the IPT, is an especially successful example, not least because it has crucially shaped my career and passion. During the years of development, Linz provided a special opportunity to present the progress in the work, to have critical discussions and to celebrate successes.
Beyond that it is important for me to gain a comprehensive insight into other areas of research, that I am not especially involved in. This means looking beyond the horizon, having critical discussions and developing visions.

So you go home with new ideas?

Fennrich: Of course, I could exchange ideas with my colleagues in Linz and work on new projects on the IPT. You see, the story goes on and it surely still holds some positive surprises!

Thank you very much for the interview!

 

Stefan Fennrich
Dr. S.R.M. Fennrich. Photo: Niederländer


Info:

Stefan R.M. Fennrich studied biochemistry and medicine and specialized in ‘In vitro Neurobiology’ for his PhD. Between 1997 and 2005 he was project leader of the in vitro pyrogentest (IPT) group under Prof. Dr. Albrecht Wendel (Chair in Biochemical Pharmacology) at the University of Konstanz (Germany), where he established the cryo method (cryoblood) and demonstrated its applicability to different areas such as air quality, medical devices and cellular therapeutics. The original concept was developed by Prof. Dr. A. Wendel and Prof. Dr. Dr. T. Hartung who are the patent holders. The IPT was successfully validated as an alternative to the rabbit pyrogen test and was implemented in the European Pharmacopoeia 6.7. as ‘Monocyte Activation Test’ (MAT) in 2010. For this outstanding method, substantially reducing the numbers of animals required in drug manufacturing, Fennrich received several awards. Currently, he is leading a new IPT team at a Clinical Research Laboratory of the University of Tübingen (Germany), in the group of Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Wendel, a specialist of in vitro methods. In their laboratory, the ‘sensor human blood’ is applied for e.g. hemocompatiblity testing of medical devices.


The interviews have been taken by Dr. des. Norbert Alzmann, InVitroJobs.