Cultured fish cell lines and organs such as gills, heart, liver and intestines are being used to investigate the effects of toxins on fish such as freshwater trout and carp in a move to cut down the number of experiments carried out on live fish. Fish Biologists will be presenting new culture methods to help replace the use of live fish for safety testing of chemicals when they meet in Glasgow for the Annual Main Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology on Sunday 1st April 2007. The move is in response to a European Commission directive to replace the use of animals in ecotoxicology which has seen the establishment of a European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) Taskforce composed of Commission and non-Commission experts giving scientific advice on 3Rs methods and testing strategies.

As an example, Dr Richard Handy at the University of Plymouth has developed a perfusion method where he can dose particular fish organs with various levels of chemicals to identify the role of a particular organ when it is presented with different toxins. “We have been able to measure the effects of toxins such as cyanide, copper and mercury on uptake into the catfish intestine”, says Dr Handy who is organising this session at the SEB Meeting.

Written from a news release by Society for Experimental Biology.