Young Researchers from UK Universities awarded Lush Prize for groundbreaking work in non-animal testing methods
The Lush Prize celebrates its 10th year with a virtual Award Ceremony on 18th November, rewarding £250k to those actively removing animals from safety testing and working towards higher and more effective levels of public safety.
Two Young Researchers in the UK, including a scientist at the University of Birmingham and a scientist at The Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London, were awarded a £10k Lush Prize each for their work. The Young Researcher Prize is open to young scientists (up to 36 years at the time of application) with a desire to fund the next stage of a career focussed on an animal-test free future.
Many animal-free science projects are based on a few method types, which have been around for some time, but have advanced as technology moves forward. It’s well known that no single method is best. Instead, it’s the combination of these methods in specific ways as New Approach Methodologies (or NAMs), which is providing animal-free innovation and better science.
Dr Sudeep Joshi is a scientist at The Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London who was awarded £10k for his work of physical ‘printing’ (also called ‘3D bioprinting) of human tissues to be used in safety testing of drugs and other chemicals, instead of animals.
The 3D printing system resembles a liquid ‘piping’ set up, to assemble the blocks of tissue which contain all relevant cells and components needed. The printing project starts with human ‘stem’ cells – these are essentially ‘blueprint’ cells in the body which can be developed into any other cells and therefore specific test models (e.g. heart, lung, brain).
Dr Joshi comments: “Animal testing is scientifically ineffective as testing performed on animals can’t be directly translated to be used on humans. I am a trained electronics engineer with a passion to build instruments and robotics automation. I switched my field of research to cell biology and biomaterials, so that with my expertise in instrument building I can develop a robotic system that can bio-fabricate 3D tissue and organoids models at mass scale for drug testing and simultaneously monitor the progress.”
Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva is a scientist at the University of Birmingham, who was awarded £10k for his project that will investigate the toxicity of substances known as perfluorochemicals, a type of chemical that humans are exposed to constantly and is found in the food chain
Arthur’s work will combine cutting edge in vitro and in silico research as a NAM. While there has been much progress recently in physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modelling and separately applying omics technologies in toxicology, unifying the capabilities of these two NAMs, to benefit from both simultaneously – for industry chemical safety including cosmetics – has not yet been attempted.
Dr Carvalho e Silva comments: “Animal testing in chemical safety assessment has shown a level of reproducibility of around 80%, and different lab animal species are concordant in only 60% of the tests. Moreover, their relevance to human data has been challenged and
studies have found that some animal assays are not concordant with the response in humans. Although current animal-free testing methods also have limitations, some promising developments have been achieved. They have earned prestige as a practical solution for ending animal suffering and generating more meaningful data.”
There were three other Young Researcher winners from the USA, Netherlands and Brazil, each getting £10k to go towards supporting their career in toxicology without harming animals.
The Lush Prize is a £250k biennial prize fund, giving away £50k per prize category.
Notes to editors:
Lush started The Lush Prize with Ethical Consumer Research Association in 2012, because of a belief that animal tests are inhumane, inaccurate, not-fit-for purpose and poor science. Instead, supporting the complete replacement of animals in safety testing and the development and implementation of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) for the production of more meaningful, human-biology specific safety data.
Between 2012 to 2022, Lush Prize has awarded over £2.65 million across 35
countries to 126 projects.
14 winners commemorated this year (4 non-financial)
2022 saw the introduction of a new ‘Political Achievement Award’ – in recognition of the essential work politicians do to create lasting legal change for animals and science.
The other Prizes awarded were:
· £50k Science prize to The Acute Systemic Toxicity team within RTI
International in the USA;
· £50k Lobbying prize to The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) for the removal the social licence of the Forced Swim Test in NZ;
· £50k Public Awareness Prize to an undercover investigation at Vivotecnia
laboratory in Spain;
· The Training prize was split – £25k each – between Dr Johanna Walter at Ärztegegen Tierversuche e.V. in Germany and Prof.dr. Pamela Bejdić at the
University of Sarajevo-Veterinary Faculty
· Jytte Guteland MEP from Sweden’s Social Democrats; Tilly Metz MEP from
Luxembourg’s Green Party; and In-soon Nam, Congresswoman, National
Assembly, South Korea were all recognised in the Political Achievement prize.
More than 100 million animals are used every year in scientific experiments worldwide.
According to the latest update on Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, 2.88 million procedures using animals were conducted only in Great Britain in 2020, with 50% of those procedures being experimental and more than a half of these were related to basic research.
Animal Testing for Cosmetics: Animal testing for cosmetics is banned in some places, but this ban does not always apply to the ingredients within the products. We came a step closer to the problem being solved in 2013 when the European Union enforced a ban on selling cosmetics that had been tested on animals as well as banning the testing of cosmetic ingredients on
However, a piece of legislation known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) interrupted the progress.
REACH passed into law in 2007, and demands that companies who manufacture or
import chemicals into Europe must meet certain criteria by law. As such, there is a
process to follow:
➜ Ingredients must first be registered with the European Chemical Agency
➜ Extensive safety data about the ingredient must then be supplied
➜ If any safety data is missing, this may mean that tests on animals must be conducted
if no other method is available.
This legislation undoes years of hard work, and new legislation in favour of animal tests may still appear. That’s why it is critical to push the scientific community to work on
human-relevant testing methods. Human-relevant methods generate human-relevant results.
About The Lush Prize
Lush Prize was founded in 2012 in the UK with a goal of helping to bring forward the date when no further product safety testing on animals was required. It is a collaboration between the campaigning cosmetics company Lush and the campaigning research group Ethical Consumer.
The £250,000 prize fund is the biggest prize in the non-animal testing sector, and is the only award to focus solely on the complete replacement of animal tests.
About New Approach Methodologies
Some method types are:
· in silico (computer based) models, which are basically programs (or
algorithms) ranging from very simple to very complex and incorporating
artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities e.g. where a computer model can be
retrained as it is tested, to enhance and improve its performance in chemical
testing or disease research.
· in vitro* (essentially ‘lab bench’ based human cell/tissue models ) which can
range from very simple to more advanced, such as ‘organ on a chip’ models,
or 3D ‘mini organ’ (organoid) models. Great advances in these have seen e.g.
‘beating heart’ or ‘breathing lung’ on a chip.
· Making better use of data from human-based studies (e.g. clinical trials or
observational studies) as well as human based safety data for chemicals, are
– Note: ‘in vitro’ can also use animal cells/tissues. Lush Prize approves only the use of human based in vitro models
‘in vivo’ means ‘in a living system’ so can refer to human or animal, but usually ‘ in vivo’ testing refers to animal tests.
About Lush: Lush is a campaigning manufacturer and retailer of fresh handmade cosmetics with shops in 49 countries. The Lush Prize is one element in a broader campaign called ‘Fighting Animal Testing’. www.lush.co.uk
About Ethical Consumer: Ethical Consumer Research Association is a not-for-profit research co-operative specialising in independent research into social, animal welfare and environmental issues. www.ethicalconsumer.org