The Lush Young Researcher Prize aims to recognise and reward those working to eliminate animal testing in science and cosmetics through their research. Dr Daria Filonov, from Creative Scientist Inc, has won one of this year’s 13 prizes for her work identifying chemicals and drugs that induce biological responses, which could cause cardiovascular disease.
Creative Scientist, Inc. (CSI) is a cell biology company investigating human sensitivity to drugs, chemical toxicants, and other biological hazards. CSI’s core expertise is rooted in the development of cell-based assays using isolation, modification, and analysis of primary human cells.
Being able to predict in what way a chemical will react with different cells in the human body means chemicals can be quickly and effectively safety tested - crucially, without the use of animals.
Daria and her team’s work involves identifying the chemicals and drugs that could lead to Cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
She explains: “Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States. Endothelial dysfunction and damage to arteries’ lining are well-recognized as critical players in the onset of these. Increasing evidence suggests many therapeutic agents and environmental toxicants have toxic effects on the vascular system and endothelium. Therefore, it is important to identify those chemicals and drugs that induce biological responses in endothelial cells and understand their mechanism of action.”
In order to test the chemicals Daria and the team of experts at CSI use cells taken from donors’ blood or tissue. They can then be used to assess an individual’s reaction to a chemical or toxin, as well as form to part of population-wide studies.
Daria says: “CSI cell-based assays overcome ethical barriers associated with unrestricted animal use, while providing a unique information about short- and long-term consequences of exposure to drugs and environmental toxicants.”
Daria believes alternative testing is far more reliable and desirable than animal tests in the field of toxicology.
“The use of animals in toxicological testing is overrated. Differences in human and animal biology lead to big and small misinterpretations of the test results. Thus, we must use relevant robust human-based in vitro models for toxicological testing.”
She continues: “Animal tests are not robust. There are in vitro tests that predict toxicological responses better than alternative animal tests.”
Aften winning the Lush Prize, Daria and the team at CSI will further develop their chemical screening platform to analyse the effects of toxicants on Endothelial Colony Forming Cells (ECFCs).