Precision-cut tissue slices as a route to reduced animal use in toxicology studies

The usage of animals for laboratory testing annually costs millions of rodents’ lives worldwide. In our project, we significantly reduce the number of animals used by implementation of the precision-cut tissue slice model (PCTS). This model represents an exciting opportunity for the future of in vitro and toxicology research for a number of reasons.

One advantage of using the PCTS model is that dozens of tissue slices can be produced from even the smallest organ, allowing vast numbers of experimental conditions to be tested for each animal. When compared to in vivo studies, where only one experimental condition can be tested, we are drastically reducing the total number of animals needed.

Moreover, every one of the many slices produced using our method maintains the complex internal structure of each organ. PCTS are therefore also responsible for the generation of robust and highly translatable data, allowing for strong prediction of clinical toxicity and development of effective disease biomarkers.

The complete cessation of animal tissue use is unlikely to occur soon. Looking forward, however, the use of the PCTS model in combination with body-on-a-chip systems may someday remove the need for whole animal studies altogether. The development and characterization of the PCTS model is therefore most certainly a step in the right direction to reduce the ecological footprint of toxicology research both now and in the future.

Nikolaas Krijnen

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