Supporting Alternatives

Adverse Outcome Pathways and 21st Century Toxicology offer new and better approaches to safety testing.

Adverse Outcome Pathways – a superior alternative to animal testing?

Animal testing is now widely acknowledged to be highly questionable, both scientifically and ethically, with regard to prediction of human safety and disease. It has also become impossible to evaluate the ever-increasing number of chemicals being developed or already on the market and the animal ‘model’ is now considered by many to be left behind.

Research to replace animals with in-vitro, in-chemico and in-silico technologies has achieved considerable success to date.

The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) concept offers exciting potential as a robust framework to make faster progress to research, develop and evaluate human-relevant methods and reliably interpret their results, for better safety prediction and disease research.

Since 2012, the Lush Prize has awarded bursaries in science, training, lobbying, public awareness as well as awarding an increasing number of young researchers each year, to encourage the replacement of animals in safety testing and research, achieving a shift in recognition of human-relevant toxicity pathways and 21st century science.

The AOP framework remains a key focus of the Lush Prize and 2015 saw the first Black Box Prize awarded to several organisations for their successful development of test methods corresponding to the AOP for skin sensitisation.

As part of its ongoing AOP focus, the Lush Prize took the opportunity to sponsor and host a session at the 10th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, held in Seattle in August 2017. The theme of the session was ‘Adverse Outcome Pathways – a superior alternative to animal testing?’.

Attendees were invited to hear an overview of the Prize and the AOP framework and to participate in a discussion/Q&A with experts in the field, on the progress of Adverse Outcome Pathways to date.

You can view the sessions below.

Also see this background paper on AOPs by Lush Prize Judge Dr Gill Langley – Adverse Outcome Pathways: Will they deliver a superior alternative to animal testing?



21st Century Toxicology

21st-Century Toxicology is a new approach to safety testing which is exciting regulators, toxicologists, campaigners and companies around the world. It has become possible because of advances in biology, genetics, computer science and robotics.

21st-Century Toxicology focusses on human ‘toxicity pathways’, the sequences of molecular changes within the body’s cells that follow exposure to a toxic chemical. As these molecular pathways are elucidated for different groups of chemicals and different toxic effects, computer technology will help identify the key steps that can then be used to design non-animal safety tests.

Many of these new tests will be done robotically, providing more cost-effective chemical assessment and helping to clear the backlog of untested substances. They offer better relevance to humans (rather than using mice, rats and rabbits), and will explain the underlying causes of toxicity.

Unlike animal methods, the new tests will help predict human variability and differential effects on embryos, children and adults. And as the superior scientific basis of the new approach is recognised, outdated animal tests will be replaced.

The Black Box Prize offers, in any prize year, an award up to the full £250,000 Lush Prize fund for a key breakthrough in human toxicity pathways research.

For more information on 21st-Century Toxicology see:

Humane Society International (video)

National Academy of Sciences Introduction (3pp pdf)

Human Toxicology Project Document (2pp pdf)

US National Academy of Sciences (Book 196pp)