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University of Cambridge team working on alternatives to animal experiments wins 2020 Lush Prize worth £50,000

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A University of Cambridge team has won a £50,000 Lush Prize, it can be revealed today.

The victorious MIE Atlas team, headed by Dr Timothy Allen, is a collaboration between the university and Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre.

Dr Timothy Allen, of the University of Cambridge, who heads the team that won the £50,000 Lush Prize in 2020 in the science category
Dr Timothy Allen, of the University of Cambridge, who heads the team that won the £50,000 Lush Prize in 2020 in the science category

They won the science category and were one of nine winners sharing a £250,000 prize pot from

Lush, the campaigning manufacturer and retailer of fresh handmade cosmetics, best known for its shops. The Lush Prize is an element of its broader campaign, called ’Fighting animal testing’.

The MIE Atlas Team have been working since 2013 to build computational models based on chemistry to predict human molecular initiating events.

These MIEs are the initial interaction between a molecule and a biomolecule or biosystem, that can be causally linked to an outcome via a pathway.

The team’s models predict in-silico how chemicals can have effects that may lead to adverse outcome pathways, or AOPs.

Dr Allen said: “Animal experiments are no way to learn about the impacts of chemicals on human biology, as they differ biologically. Non-animal methods with a mechanistic toxicology focus can answer these questions in a scientifically superior way.

“While scientific excellence drives alternatives to animal testing, the moral argument that animal experimentation is wrong helps turn this drive into a passion.

“New methodologies are needed to allow for this transition, and it’s great to think that the scientific work you are doing is not only applicable in real-world scenarios but is also helping to drive that science in the correct moral direction.”

Winners are due to receive their awards at an online ceremony today (Wednesday), which will be followed by a virtual conference exploring the question ‘Can big data replace animal testing?’.

Other winners came from China, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA. Visit https://lushprize.org/ to learn more.

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