CIT will partake in ScreenTox, the five-year joint R&D project coordinated by Inserm, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research. It will be joining 13 other organizations, and the goal is to address the current shortcomings in testing methods that predict the toxicity of drugs, chemicals, and cosmetic ingredients.
The ScreenTox project recognizes a major paradigm shift in predictive toxicology that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) will permit in the coming years. It makes use of iPSCs to optimize current processes and develop novel methods of achieving functional differentiation of human-based target cells in vitro. iPSCs offer an opportunity to create a wide variety of human cell-based test systems because these cells may be expanded indefinitely and triggered to differentiate into any cell type.
“The evaluation of toxicants calls for new models that will allow assessing toxicity pathway responses in vitro,” says Marc Peschanski, a leading scientist in the field of toxicity and coordinator of the network. “Derivatives of pluripotent stem cell lines are likely to be the best candidates to implement this new strategy, as these most relevant and reliable model systems can also be robust and scalable in order to meet the challenges of industrial-scale screens.”
Roy Forster, CIT's scientific director, adds, "ScreenTox has the potential to generate a huge leap forward in toxicity testing as it combines three key factors: a wide range of international scientific expertise and industry know-how as well as substantial financial investment. We believe that ScreenTox will demonstrate advantages in using stem cells to assess how safe new products will be for use on humans and in refining, reducing, or even replacing the use of animals for testing.”
The ScreenTox project will be funded as part of a research cluster with an overall budget of €50 million. This cluster covers seven projects and represents a unique joint effort from the European Commission and the European Cosmetic Association.