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Innovative, non-animal methods for risk assessment of chemicals in the centre of interest

42/2021, 08.11.2021

International symposium of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research takes place from 15 to 17 November 2021

Every day, people are exposed to a variety of chemical substances. Before being used, chemicals are toxicologically tested and their risks to human health are assessed. In recent years, a variety of alternative, non-animal methods such as in vitro, in silico and omics methods have been developed for this purpose. The current state of research and the application of these methods in regulatory risk assessment are subjects of an international symposium taking place in Berlin in mid-November. The event, organised by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), brings together experts from science, regulatory authorities and industry. "Methodological advances offer the opportunity to fill existing gaps in the risk assessment of chemicals," says BfR President Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Research on human cell models and computer-assisted procedures are forward-looking for consumer health protection and animal welfare."

Testing and evaluation strategies for chemical safety are still largely based on animal experiments. In addition to ethical concerns, this system also has weaknesses, for example in the evaluation of many substances in a short time. In some cases, there are uncertainties about the transferability of the results to humans. Against this background, alternative, non-animal methods and concepts (New Approach Methodologies, NAMs) are increasingly being developed. NAMs can already provide important information for the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals. A variety of different methods is used, such as high-throughput screening techniques and omics methods. NAMs usually employ human cell lines or tissue equivalents. In this way, adverse health effects can be directly demonstrated in humans, also with the help of "organ-on-a-chip" models that replicate the human organism. Computer-aided predictions and the use of artificial intelligence represent a further area of application. However, the widespread use of NAM-based data in regulatory toxicology is still hampered by unanswered questions about informative value, validity and reproducibility. This is where the BfR and UfZ event comes in to promote international exchange between different players.

The International Symposium on New Methods, Omics and Novel Concepts in Toxicology will take place as part of the BfR event "Challenges in Public Health Protection in the 21st Century" from 15 to 17 November 2021 as a hybrid event at the Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus in Berlin and online. Interested parties can register for participation until 8 November 2021:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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