A virtual fish to study chemicals
The vision is to amalgamate data from as many fish organs as possible into one computer model to create a virtual fish that can be used to test chemicals in the future.
Many different types of human-manufactured chemical enter the environment. Before approving these chemicals, the authorities must ensure that they have no detrimental effects on animals and plants. One of the primary species used for this, by virtue of their high suitability, is fish. Fish are also an important food source for humans, which means there is a direct link between the health of fish and human health. Every year, millions of fish are used worldwide in environmental risk assessments.
Kristin Schirmer's project builds on a milestone. In 2021, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) approved the first fish cell line-based test for use in assessing the environmental risk posed by chemicals.
However, one test in itself is only sufficient to cover a small part of the total environmental impact, which is why Schirmer's team plan to go one step further in their NRP project. The team will study additional fish cell lines (from the gut, liver, brain, etc.) and combine the data from them using computer models. The vision is to amalgamate data from as many fish organs as possible into one computer model to create a virtual fish that can be used to test chemicals in the future.
"It is crucial that we develop our virtual fish from the ground up and hand in hand with our partners in industry and the authorities. This is the only way we can ensure a successful outcome for our project and that it will be accepted and supported by the authorities," says project manager Kristin Schirmer.
Expanding the fish invitrome towards a modular, socio-technical framework for animal-free prediction of chemical toxicity to fish