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Correct safety evaluation of chemicals and pharmaceuticals is essential to protect consumers. For industries, realistic safety evaluation is of equal importance. The use of experimental animals in safety evaluation is under pressure, not only because of obvious ethical reasons, but also because these tests are expensive, time consuming, low in throughput and often give unsatisfactory predictions of human toxicity.
Modern mechanistic bioassays provide insight in the modes of action of toxicants and can be used as alternative methods to assess chemical safety, particularly when coupled to so-called adverse outcome pathways (AOP).
We have developed a wide range of such human-cell based assays, and we have automated them for the use in high-throughput panels to assess safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These methods are particularly suited for use in integrated testing and read across procedures. Other major applications include screening and bioactivity profiling to select new candidate drugs and chemicals with promising profiles with respect to safety. Our latest developments focus on activity screens directed to beneficial effects, including bioactivity profiling of herbal drugs and functional foods. Tests can be carried out using metabolising systems and methods to assess pharmacokinetics.
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