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In the News

VIDEO: Highlights of the Summer School on Innovative Approaches in Science

VIDEOS: Thomas Hartung at ESOF2020: COVID-19: A Brain Disease? and Demonstrating that Lab-grown "Mini-brains" can be Infected with COVID-19

Thomas Hartung and Marcel Leist Receive Ursula Händel Animal Welfare Prize 2020 for Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments

VIDEO: Thomas Hartung on the 3Rs and COVID-19 Research at World Congress 11: COVID-19: What is in the Box of Alternative Methods?

PRESS RELEASE: Lab-Grown ‘Mini-Brains’ Suggest COVID-19 Virus Can Infect Human Brain Cells

Coronavirus Could Infect Human Brain and Replicate, US Study Shows (Financial Times) (Paywall)

SARS-CoV-2 Can Infect Human Brain Organoids (The Scientist)

What Miniature Lab-Grown Brains Reveal About the Effects of Covid-19 (OneZero)

Infectability of human BrainSphere neurons suggests neurotropism of SARS-CoV-2,” as published in ALTEX, was written by C. Korin Bullen, Helena Therese Hogberg, Asli Bahadirli-Talbott, William R. Bishai, Thomas Hartung, Casey Keuthan, Monika M. Looney, Andrew Pekosz, Carolina Romero, Fenna Claudia Margaretha Sillé, Peter Um, and Lena Smirnova.

New Videos

VIDEO: 3Rs Training Webinar series 2021

VIDEO: CAAT’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

VIDEO: Challenges and Opportunities for Overcoming Dog Use in Agro-chemical Evaluation and Registration

VIDEO: Alternative approaches in Developmental Neurotoxicity - a farewell symposium for CAAT’s deputy director Helena Hogberg

Video: COVID-19: A Brain Disease?
With CAAT Director Thomas Hartung
From the Euroscience Open Forum 2020

60 Years of the 3Rs: Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead

Full Symposium Playlist
A celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the publication of The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique by W.M.S Russell and R.L. Burch. This event, which featured some of the eminent scientists and researchers in the field of alternatives to animal testing, took place on November 22, 2019 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was sponsored by CAAT, Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives, Alternative Research & Development Foundation (ARDF), The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), International Fragrance Association (IFRA), Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), John “Jack” R. Fowle III, and the Society of Toxicology (SOT).

CAAT Keynote: Michael Balls: On the Replacement of Animal Testing: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Michael Balls, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Recorded Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Bloomberg School of Public Health Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)

Watch (YouTube)

Keynote: Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Understanding Toxicological Insights

Stefan Platz, DVM
Senior Vice President of Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences, AstraZeneca

Health Stefan Platz is the Senior Vice President of Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences within AstraZeneca’s R&D BioPharmaceuticals unit. In this role, Stefan is responsible for the non-clinical safety assessment of all drug candidates, delivery of non-clinical and clinical bioanalysis strategies and clinical pharmacology and pharmacometrics. He leads a global department of 600 scientists spread across Sweden, UK and the US.

Stefan has a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Munich and is a German certified veterinary pathologist as well as Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. He started his career in 1996 at Boehringer-Ingelheim. Before joining AstraZeneca in February 2012, Stefan led the non-clinical safety organisations for Hoffmann-La Roche in both Basel and Palo Alto. During this time period he also had extended periods of strategic responsibilities for the early safety screening as well as biologics safety.

Stefan is particularly interested in exploring novel approaches and technologies to better predict human safety based on in vitro and in silico data. Recent investments by AstraZeneca in microphysiological systems may help to understand safety risks in patients based on a dynamic cell system mimicking full organ functionality. Together with modelling and simulation of human data this might accelerate drug development and result in a reduction in number of animal used in preclinical testing.

Watch (YouTube)

Keynote by Andrew Rowan, PhD: The Origins of CAAT and its Impact Over the Years: An Animal Advocate Viewpoint

Dr. Rowan was the founder and first and longest-serving director of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy (1983-1997). His history with animal research issues dates back to a stint at FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) in London (1976-78). He continued his involvement at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he was vice president for animal research issues (1978-1982) and where he served as Chief Scientific Officer of HSUS and President and CEO of Humane Society International until his retirement last month.

In this keynote, Dr. Rowan discusses the origins and evolution of CAAT and its continuing impact on scientific research and animal welfare.

Watch (YouTube)

Book Launch: Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change

The 51 experts who contributed to Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change review current animal use in science, present new and innovative non-animal approaches to address urgent scientific questions, and offer a roadmap towards the continuing replacement and eventual elimination of animals used in science as envisioned by Russell and Burch almost 60 years ago.

CAAT's Assistant Scientist and Veterinarian Kathrin Herrmann is one of the book's editors. Thomas Hartung contributed the concluding chapter. At this book launch event, which was held on November 30th at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, several of the mostly North America-based authors gave talks based on their book chapters.

Watch Now (YouTube)?

Keynote Talks: Three Road Maps for Alternatives to Animal Use—One Goal

Louis Scarano, Ph
D Supervisory Toxicologist, Environmental Protection Agency

Suzy Fitzpatrick, PhD, DABT Senior Advisor for Toxicology, Food and Drug Administration

Warren Casey, PhD
Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Recorded May 30, 2109 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Presented by the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)

Link (YouTube)

Thomas Hartung Cited in Nature Lab Animal


“There's a trend for making more and more such data available,” said Thomas Hartung, chair for evidence-based toxicology at Johns Hopkins University. 

One particularly rich source of information developed after Europe enacted the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) regulations in 2006, which required publication of toxicological tests for all candidate chemicals (https:// propertysearch/index.action). Hartung and his group tapped this source to create a massive chemical topography that can be used to map a new chemical and estimate its toxicological properties.

Using 10 million representative molecules (out of about 140 million known), they created a map of the known chemical universe that placed structurally similar molecules close to one another. To determine structural proximity, their model/algorithm had to compare each molecule to every other molecule in the database. That added up to 50 trillion comparisons of individual chemical pairs, which demanded about two days of calculations on an Amazon cloud service. The researchers then pooled chemicals by 74 labels of available toxicological data, under 19 categories like acute toxicity, reproductive toxicity, or skin irritation. Any modern computer can run a comparison of a novel chemical against one of those data sets to see where it fits in the chemical space, and then examine the data of the chemical’s closest structural relatives. “If it’s negative all around, we can say it’s extremely unlikely that something will suddenly be positive,” said Hartung. An analysis where 190,000 chemicals with known classification as toxic or not were compared to the respective prediction showed that the model was 87% accurate. By contrast, when an animal study is repeated using the identical molecule, the same result occurs only 81% of the time3. “Our computational approaches outperform the reproducibility of the animal tests,” said Hartung. 

Hartung’s work is looking for regulatory acceptance, which he hopes will be forthcoming in the United States as his group works to get the method validated through The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, a group established in 2000 that includes 16 US regulatory and research agencies.

Full Article: Toxicology Testing Steps Towards Computers (Nature Lab Animal)

National Public Radio (NPR) Covers CAAT's Mini-Brain Research

Some tiny clusters of brain cells grown in a lab dish are making big news at this week's Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. At a Sunday press conference at the neuroscience meeting, researchers said minibrains are helping them figure out how the Zika virus can disrupt human brain formation in the early stages of fetal development.Thomas Hartung is interviewed. 
Full Article on NPR

Mini-Brains Made to Order: Cell-Culturing Technique Developed by JHSPH Scientists Could Revolutionize Neurological Drug Development

From the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Yearbook

“Ninety-five percent of drugs that look promising when tested in animal models fail once they are tested in humans at great expense of time and money,” says Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD, the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Professor and Chair for Evidence-based Toxicology at the Bloomberg School.

There are myriad reasons why seemingly promising drugs fail when tested on humans, but the most intractable problem is also the most obvious. “While rodent models have been useful,” observes Hartung, “we are not 150-pound rats.”
Full Article

Archived Articles:


CAAT YouTube Channel

CAAT 25th Anniversary Symposium Video

Part 1. Introductory remarks by James D. Yager, PhD and Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (16.4 MB QuickTime movie)

Part 2. Alan M. Goldberg; Remembering Bill Russell video tribute (52 MB Quicktime movie)

CAAT Video

CAAT: 25 Years of Humane Science Documentary (3-part documentary produced for CAAT's 25th Anniversary Symposium)

"Remembering Bill Russell" video tribute


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