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Lush Prize 2020 winners announced!
Big data projects lining up to replace animal tests
For the first time, this year three of the nine winners sharing the £250,000 Lush Prize were working on big data projects designed to replace animal tests.
Winners from Cambridge University, Utrecht University and a Milan Research Institute were all using computer databases to successfully predict the toxicity of chemicals for humans.
“The judges were particularly excited by the fact that this year’s shortlist contained a new wave of projects which were modelling the cellular pathways of toxic molecules in their datasets. This combination of 21st century technologies showed perhaps the greatest promise yet for a widespread replacement of older and less reliable animal models on a global scale.”
Rob Harrison, Lush Prize Director
The winners received their awards at an online ceremony on November 11th, which also featured poetry, dancing and animation. The ceremony followed an online conference exploring the question ‘Can big data replace animal testing?’ that heard from scientists, campaigners and regulators from around the world.
The three computational winners were :
The MIE Atlas Team, headed up by Dr Tim Allen, who won the £50,000 SCIENCE prize for their work in building computational models, based on chemistry, to predict human molecular initiating events. These models predict, in silico, how chemicals can have effects that may lead to adverse outcome pathways.
“Scientific excellence is key in everything we do. Animal experiments are no way to learn about the impacts of chemicals on human biology, as they differ biologically. Non-animal methods with a mechanistic toxicology focus can answer these questions in a scientifically superior way.”
Dr Tim Allen, MIE Atlas Team, Cambridge University/Unilever, UK
Edoardo Carnesecchi, from Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) Netherlands, who won a YOUNG RESEARCHER prize of £10,000 for his development of an innovative software platform to assess chemical mixtures toxicity and exposure.
Dr Domenico Gadaleta of the Computational Toxicology Unit at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Italy, who won a YOUNG RESEARCHER prize of £10,000 for his project developing a computational platform for early detection of the neurotoxicity of chemicals.
Also winning awards at the 2020 Lush Prize were :
LOBBYING … policy interventions to promote the use of replacements
The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) won the £50,000 LOBBYING prize for their work in erasing mandatory animal testing requirements and prioritising non-animal testing methods in the chemical registration process.
PUBLIC AWARENESS … raising awareness of on-going testing
SOKO Tierschutz, Germany, won the £50,000 PUBLIC AWARENESS prize for their undercover investigation at the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
TRAINING … training researchers in non-animal tests
Helpathon Team, from the Netherlands, won the £50,000 TRAINING prize for their work accelerating human relevant research by helping scientists find non-animal methods in their studies.
YOUNG RESEARCHERS … £10,000 to each researcher under 35 years old specialising in animal replacement research
Nadine Dreser, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, is investigating the early stages of nervous system formation in the developing embryo and its response to drugs, known as Developmental Neurotoxicity - DNT. She has developed an innovative software platform to assess chemical mixtures toxicity and exposure.
Dr Johanna Nyffeler is a Swiss young researcher from the US Environmental Protection Agency, USA, is working on high-throughput phenotypic profiling of human neural progenitor cells to identify putative modes-of-action of developmental neurotoxicants.
Dr Yuan Pang from the Tsinghua University, China, works on constructing advanced in vitro tissue models based on 3D bioprinting and their application in drug discovery and toxicity testing.
The Andrew Tyler Award for outstanding contribution to ending animal testing (a non-financial prize) this year went to Andrew Rowan PhD.
Andrew is President of Wellbeing International, and former CEO of Humane Society International. He has also served on the committees of several animal protection groups, including the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
You can find further details on all the 2020 winners on the Lush Prize website.
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 Research Association.
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. It it's now in its eighth prize cycle.