The Lush Training Prize aims to recognise and reward those working to eliminate animal testing in science and cosmetics through training. Kirkstall is a UK-based biotechnology company dedicated to changing researchers’ perspectives on animal replacement and in vitro testing, and it is for their work doing so that they have won one of this year’s two training prizes.
Kirkstall’s mission is to “save lives through better science”, and to do this they introduce scientists from all over the world to the theory and practice of alternative testing.
Dr Kelly Davidge is research and development manager of the company, and explains why this is so necessary: “Changing researchers’ perspectives on animal replacement and in vitro testing is challenging. Many researchers are not even aware that alternatives exist, so we must improve their awareness.
“Our training workshops provide an introduction to the theory and practice of all advanced cell culture techniques, ensuring attendees leave with a detailed understanding of how to replace animal testing with more effective, human-relevant research.”
But why are the team at Kirkstall so passionate about teaching researches about alternative forms of testing?
Kelly says: “As scientists we are amazed that so many researchers are still using animals in their work, especially now that the scientific evidence is building, in cancer research and many other areas, that the animal models are just not working.” She continues: “And as business people, we are distressed that so much money is being wasted on ineffective animal work, when it could be better spent on alternatives.
“As caring human beings we want to prevent the pain and distress inflicted on animals.”
Kirkstall achieves this by demonstrating advanced in vitro methods are a more effectiveway to accurately predict the safety and efficacy of drugs. So far, the have reached over 600 scientists.
Kirkstall believe that once the scientific case is made they can begin to convince the regulatory bodies of the case for making animal testing obsolete.
What’s more, after winning the Lush Prize, Kirkstall will continue to campaign to make this a reality: “Gaining and sharing of knowledge with the research professionals is essential for the development of research methods that will lead to the reduction, and eventual replacement of animal testing.
Kelly adds: “The recognition and financial reward gained from the Lush Prize presents us with a great opportunity to increase the impact of our training activity and our continued efforts towards the replacement of animal testing.”