The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences has formed a research initiative using what it believes to be more realistic 3-D tissue bioassays for in vitro toxicity testing. The aim is to produce better human tissue surrogates in accordance with the vision of the 2007 National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century”, which advocates new in vitro approaches to chemical safety sciences.
The Hamner’s research program could also have implications on improving drug safety through a collaborative effort with scientists at The Hamner-UNC Institute for Drug Safety Sciences.
The initiative will use multiple cell types to replicate the architecture of the human liver in the lab. As the program matures, scientists will consider similar approaches for other tissues such as lung, kidney, and heart.
For the initial phase of the program, novel cell culture systems will be developed and evaluated with the most promising technologies moving into validation for more routine use in toxicity testing.
Current 2-D liver cell cultures are only viable in the lab for approximately one week, making them suitable for studying acute conditions, according to The Hamner. 3-D cultures, on the other hand, typically are viable for one to two months, thus enabling studies of more prolonged exposure to chemicals. The new program will be supported by the American Chemistry Council and led by Edward LeCluyse, Ph.D., an expert in liver-cell culturing and toxicology.