BASF researchers have won a 15,000 Research Prize for their work which aims to reduce and replace animal experimentation.
The award is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV).
The scientists have developed animal-free testing methods and strategies that examine substances for skin sensitisation, as well as eye and skin irritation. They say the predictive accuracies are at least as good as those provided by animal studies.
'Not only did we develop these methods, we also validated them, which allows us to use them in our routine testing now,' said Robert Landsiedel, Head of the Short-Term Toxicology Unit at BASF.
Together with Susanne Kolle, head of the laboratory for applied alternative methods, and Caroline Bauch, who worked on the development of the methods as part of her doctoral thesis, Landsiedel received the prize on behalf of the entire Experimental Toxicology and Ecology team from Peter Bleser, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
Not only did we develop these methods, we also validated them, which allows us to use them in our routine testing now
To test the skin sensitising effect of substances, BASF toxicologists have developed a reliable testing strategy that predicts the allergic effect with an accuracy of 94%. By comparison, they say the animal test displays an accuracy of 89%.
Since 2010, a completely alternative method has been used to test skin irritation, which is recognised as an OECD test guideline. BASF is also contributing to developing and validating this method further.
Possible severe eye irritations have also been tested using an Opacitometer, developed by BASF specifically for this purpose and provided to other laboratories at cost price.
A completely new feature is the testing of mild eye irritation using cultured tissue models resembling the cornea of the human eye.
BASFs Toxicology Department has been developing alternative methods for more than 20 years and uses them whenever possible to reduce the number of experimental animals used.
In total, about one third of all toxicological studies at BASF are already performed with the help of such methods.