Respiratory sensitization is one of the biggest emerging problems in toxicology with tremendous economical and safety implications. With that in mind, LIST’s researchers specialized on the development of animal free toxicity testing methods naturally focused their attention on the development of in vitro methods for the detection of chemical respiratory sensitization. Rapidly, they thought about working on the human lung and more specifically in the deep lung for which no commercial testing models are available and where a large part of mechanisms leading to sensitization takes place.
In the last eight years and within various projects they developed an alveolar in vitro model that is able to identify respiratory sensitizers. This model, innovative and unique in its kind as it totally excludes the use of animal experimentation, has been granted a patent last June. It now needs to be further improved, stabilized and tested in real conditions with interested companies so to be placed on the market.
With the VitralizeMe project, LIST’s researchers intend to finally concretise the innovative alveolar in vitro model for respiration sensitization they developed within their laboratories in Belvaux, Luxembourg. They want to demonstrate that their technology is strong enough to go on the market. To achieve this, they will overcome the current identified limitations by further improving their model, which has only been tested on a limited number of controls. However, it should be underlined that the tests performed so far did show very promising and showed that the model is provided with good sensitivity and specificity.
Increasing the number of controls of the model is even more crucial as researchers intend to submit it for formal validation by the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM). This validation at European level thanks to a series of tests done all across Europe in various and independent laboratories is a key step for the future applicability of the model in industrial settings. It will not only has a real added-value to the technology, but also represent a step forward to stop using animal models for respiratory sensitization testing.
Finally, the project will determine both the intra- and inter-laboratory variability thereby to determine the products characteristics and to obtain insights about the best way to commercialize it, for example, as an “in-house” service or as a “ready-to-use” assay.
At the end of the project, LIST researchers intend to set-up a business model for the commercialization of their alveolar in vitro model whose efficiency will be verified and approved by major independent stakeholders. The VitralizeMe technology will offer real and unprecedented alternatives to the use of animal experimentation in the context of the prediction of respiratory sensitization.