Thursday, 05 July 2012 23:04

With persistence: Dr. Thomas Montag-Lessing Featured

Dr. Thomas Montag-Lessing died in July at the age of 61 years. I did not take for granted getting to know the scientist working at the Paul Ehrlich Institute personally and yet he has earned these lines - but they are also in memory of all those dedicated researchers who work on the ethically challenging development of replacement methods to animal experiments without being in the spotlight of public attention and without being recognised as a significant developer.

Dr. Montag-Lessing was not a classic animal rights activists. As a medical man and scientist he was focused on the safety of the patients. He has always stressed that the change from the rabbit pyrogen test to the MAT (monocyte activation test with human cells) has to be taken forward - not only for ethical reasons, but also for scientific reasons. Alternatives to animal testing are often better than the classic animal experiments.

This is about a scientist who has worked for many years consistently - but also persistently - on the advent of the in vitro Pyrogentest (MAT) in the European Pharmacopoeia. The MAT is an alternative procedure to the use of rabbits in testing drugs for fever-causing substances. "He was one of the first and closest allies in the development of the IPT," said Dr. Stefan Fennrich, leader of the development team of the Department of Biochemical Pharmacology at Constance University between 1997 and 2005.

Sure, the idea and development of an animal test replacement method is the most important thing. However, implementing the test after prevalidation and validation in the legislation is another equally important matter, without which the numerical replacement of animal experiments cannot be successful. Only when a procedure is required by law can it replace an animal test comprehensively. This unnoticed in the background occuring negotiation and persuasion process requires many years of persistence in Strasbourg. Thomas Montag-Lessing possessed this perseverance and persuasiveness which was nessessary to anker essential parts of the monograph 2.6.30 (MAT) in Strasbourg. In addition to the MAT, Dr. Montag-Lessing and his research group worked on the replacement of a mouse test for the detection of active pertussis toxins in human vaccines.

He gained great international recognition for his achievements in the field of bacterial safety of blood products. A variety of condolences from around the world have shown that just the enthusiasm and perseverance of Dr. Montag-Lessing have been appreciated worldwide. His group is trying to carry Dr. Montag-Lessing´s inspiration further.

We thank him for his outstanding work.