Research methods to study drugs’ effects on aquatic non-target organisms are mainly based on in vivo experiments on living organisms. Environmental risk assessment is required for new active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) entering the market but only after the year 2006. Using animal models in research is ethically unsound, and for this reason, new cell-based or sub-cellular (e.g. enzymatic) in vitro methods are needed for screening of sets of compounds for their environmental impacts, including the legacy APIs. Simple in vitro methods would help to prioritize the most hazardous APIs that could, later on, be subjected to more detailed an evaluation.
We, at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, develop new cell-based and subcellular in vitro methods. We aim at exploiting the advantages of microfluidic set-ups including low reaction volumes and spatiotemporal control of drug concentrations and assay conditions. We use 3D cell cultures to mimic cell interactions in tissues. The microfluidic chip development is basic research at this point, as we aim at studying cell-material interactions in order to control cell adhesion and create biocompatible devices. Later on, the developed devices will be evaluated for their feasibility for environmental risk assessment.
Check Päivi Järvinen’s presentation on bioaccumulation of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in fish in SUDDEN project seminar on 11 May 2021: