The Lush Young Researcher Prize aims to recognise and reward those working to eliminate animal testing in science and cosmetics through their research. Mijoo Kim from the College of Dentistry at Yonsei university has won one of this year’s 13 prizes for her development of in vitro models for testing dental materials.
Before a material can be used in dentistry it must first be safety tested. Currently the dental industry uses animals to do this, with many researchers not believing in alternatives.
But Mijoo Kim is passionate about replacing animal testing in the dental industry.
She explains: “Biocompatibility research on dentistry is not a popular field to many scientists, and animal alternative tests are very unfamiliar part not only to the public but also to the researchers.
“I did many trials because alternatives to animal tests are not considered as a critical thing in dentistry at the moment. In fact, many peer reviewers insisted that I should perform the animal tests to verify the toxicity of dental materials - even after the in vitro tests proved them safe. But the reduction of animal tests is possible without additional in vivo tests in dentistry.
“To reduce the animal tests and mimic the clinical situation, I’ve tried to develop in vitro models for testing the dental materials, especially by the dentin barrier test.”
Mijoo believes that reducing and eliminating animal testing is a responsibility that all scientists and researchers should shoulder.
She says: “We should remember respect for human beings is attained by that for other creatures. That’s why scientists deny unnecessary animal testing and develop other reliable and validated test methods for the future.
“Animal testing is not always an inevitable thing when the scientists decide whether any material is beneficial materials to human. We should think about the reliability of animal testing because results don’t always relate to the “real” toxic levels, which has already been proved in many previous papers. People should know that the tests with substitutional tissues or organs which mimic our own are necessary, and not obtained by animal testing.
After winning the Lush Prize, Mijoo will continue to work on developing these in vitro tests and other, alternatives to animal testing.