New EU initiative to provide better risk assessment of chemicals
18 June 2021
With RISK-HUNT3R, the European Union is gathering forces to develop strategies and animal-free models for improved risk assessment of chemicals. "This is an area we are passionate about," says Per Artursson, Professor of Dosage Form Design and in charge of Uppsala University's engagement in the consortium.
With the launch of the RISK-HUNT3R knowledge consortium, the EU is taking a new major step to eliminate the impact of hazardous chemicals on humans and the environment. Together, 37 universities, companies and authorities in nine countries aim to develop reliable and cost-effective strategies for calculating the potential negative effects of chemical substances using animal-free studies.
“Analysing and restructuring methods in order to find alternative ways to animal studies has always been central to our operations, so this is an area we are passionate about. The initiators behind RISK-HUNT3R have undoubtedly succeeded in mobilising Europe's leading organisations as well as a very competent management, and when we were offered to add our expertise in pharmaceutical research, we did not hesitate,” says Per Artursson, Professor of Dosage Form Design and in charge of the Faculty of Pharmacy's engagement in the consortium.
The consortium's activities will be coordinated by Bob van de Water, Professor of Drug Safety Sciences at the University of Leiden. By integrating advanced computer simulations and in vitro studies, his ambition is to develop a framework for calculating the potential negative health effects caused by chemicals, as well as how to implement relevant data in this mathematical environment.
“The EU's Green Deal contains a chemicals strategy towards a toxic-free environment, but to test all existing substances for their toxicity would take unreasonably long time even if using animal testing. In addition, test animals only have a limited resemblance to people. When it comes to drugs, using laboratory animals you only detect 70 per cent of the side effects that occur in humans. Thus, we need safer and more efficient analytical methods, and in validating these, pharmaceutical researchers has a central task,” states Bob van de Water.
Per Artursson's research team is part of a RISK-HUNT3R Work Package that will examine how drugs and chemcials with a risk of toxic effects are exposed in and passing through the human intestine into our bodies. This work will initially be based on a selection of chemicals for which human data are available, The data delivered will be used to create toxicokinetic models that will in turn be integrated with effect models into models laying the foundation for future risk assessments.
“Our group have extensive experience from this type of research, and I hope that the results we can contribute will be of great value to the consortium's operations. On a more wide-ranging level, we are facing a very complex challenge. To completely eliminate both animal tests and toxic chemicals is a step-by-step process that will likely last several decades, but with the line-up RISK-HUNT3R has gathered, I truly believe that we can reach our goals,” says Per Artursson.
- Stands for RISK assessment of chemicals integrating HUman centric Next generation Testing strategies promoting the 3Rs.
- Was launched 1 June 2021 will operate until 31 May 2026.
- Has a budget of 23 million euro granted by the Horizon 2020 EC program.