What is in vitro toxicology?
The discipline of in vitro toxicology studies the effects of toxic chemical substances on cultured cells. For several decades in vitro (literally ‘in glass’) testing methods have been used to identify hazards in the development of chemicals in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, cosmetics and consumer products, and food industries. More recently new developments such as computational (often termed in silico) approaches, use of surrogate species such as zebrafish, and molecular mechanisms of toxicity have broadened the definition of in vitro toxicology.
The IVTS was founded under a constitution in 1988 for scientists active in the study, practice or development of in vitro toxicology. The aims of the IVTS are:
- To encourage alternative approaches to animal testing and promoting the 3Rs
- To provide a forum for discussion for scientists actively involved in the study, practice or development of in vitro toxicology
- To arrange scientific meetings on the subject of in vitro toxicology and its practical applications
- To promote an exacting scientific approach to the practice of in vitro toxicology
- To encourage participation of new student scientists in the field of in vitro toxicology
The IVTS and animal use in toxicology
There remains a need for the use of animals in toxicology research and for ensuring that new chemicals, drugs and other products can be made and used safely. This is a requirement of comprehensive national and international laws and regulations. The 3Rs – Replacement, Refinement and Reduction – are a widely accepted ethical framework for conducting scientific experiments using animals humanely (see IVTS policy on animal usage).
However, while recognising that this requirement for animals will remain for the foreseeable future, the In Vitro Toxicology Society and its members are committed to the 3Rs and take every opportunity to reduce and refine the use of animals where this can be achieved, and to replace the need for animals altogether whenever this is possible. In particular, in vitro toxicologists have a commitment to the development of alternative methods.
IVTS membership consists of mainly UK-based scientists working in academia and industries that require safety testing of new chemical entities. Our membership also extends to government agencies that regulate safety testing, and companies that supply models and reagents that are used in in vitro toxicology testing.
Membership of the Society is restricted to individuals representing organisations that sign up to the IVTS policy on animal usage.
Each year the IVTS organises 2-3 scientific meetings. This includes a symposium at the annual meting of the British Toxicology Society (BTS) to which the IVTS is affiliated. Our annual meeting is held in November over two days, with topics ranging from regulatory issues through to innovative in vitro models and provides an excellent forum for sharing information and cross-sector and cross-disciplinary collaboration. A list of previous IVTS organised meetings can be found here.
We welcome ideas for future meetings and issues or debates relating to in vitro toxicology, so if you have a suggestion please contact any member of the committee.
We look forward to seeing you at one of our meetings.
Attendance at IVTS meetings is restricted to individuals representing organisations that sign up to the IVTS policy on animal usage.
Members receive approximately 20 % discounts for IVTS annual meeting registration and a regular IVTS eNewsletter. Students members benefit from up to a 50 % discount for our meetings, bursaries or other financial support (by application) to attend non-society meetings, and prizes for student presentations at relevant scientific meetings. Bursaries are up to £100 for a UK meeting, £200 for a European and £500 for the rest of the world and are usually limited to one application/membership period)