Researchers test new methods to end cancer research on animals

A team at Swansea University's Institute of Life Science have received a grant to develop new testing methods based on human cells, which will substantially reduce animal testing for cancer-causing chemicals in coming years.

Professor Gareth Jenkins and his team have been awarded a £400,000 grant by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to find methods for assessing cancer risk that are faster, more efficient and have reduced reliance on animals.

Currently, testing chemicals used in the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and consumer products industries for their potential to cause cancer (carcinogenicity testing) uses large numbers of animals, and are time consuming and expensive.

Moreover, the latest amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive prescribes a ban on animal testing of all cosmetic ingredients.

Professor Jenkins plans to study how chemicals interrupt the mechanisms by which cells communicate with each other, and to combine this information with current data to provide a better prediction of which chemicals are potential carcinogens.

The study, which is being conducted in collaboration with diagnostics and pharmaceutical giants Roche and GE Healthcare, will also consider how harmful chemical doses that cause effects in vitro can be extrapolated to doses likely to cause effects in vivo in humans.