News Release

IIVS to collaborate with RIFM to develop non-animal technologies for respiratory allergy

Business Announcement

Institute for In Vitro Sciences

The Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) announce a collaboration to develop a non-animal (in vitro) test designed to assess potential respiratory allergens.

Environmental, consumer, or workplace exposure to respiratory allergens can result in harmful health effects. However, developing reliable in vitro methods to assess the allergenicity of materials to the airway tract has proven challenging. Most efforts have resulted in low accuracy and the inability to distinguish airway sensitizers from irritants — a critical factor in identifying respiratory sensitization. In this collaboration, IIVS will use human precision-cut lung slices (hPCLS) to elucidate molecular pathways associated with respiratory sensitizers that are distinct from those of respiratory irritants and skin sensitizers.

"Human lung slices retain all the cell types and native architecture of the human lung periphery and therefore offer a unique opportunity to study the effects of inhaled materials, including respiratory sensitizers," states Dr. Holger Behrsing, Director of Respiratory Toxicology at IIVS. "We are enthusiastic about working with RIFM and their distinguished scientists on a topic of such great concern to the industry, clinicians, and consumers."

Using lungs that are not suitable for transplantation, IIVS creates the hPCLS in its laboratory in Gaithersburg, MD (USA) and provides testing services to various academic researchers, occupational health experts, and industry toxicologists wanting to understand the impact of inhaled materials on the human lung. The model supports the study of the effects of various substances, including chemical substances, consumer/household formulations, pharmaceutical therapies, and nicotine-based products.

"Respiratory irritation and sensitization are of great concern to numerous companies, including the fragrance industry," states Dr. Anne Marie Api, Vice President at RIFM. "It is important for us to understand the underlying mechanism of this process so that companies can continue to develop and market products safe for home and personal use."

To date, one limiting factor of using hPCLS is the availability of donor lungs. IIVS is investigating the use of cryopreservation (freezing) of the tissues to overcome this challenge. After encouraging preliminary results, the company is undertaking a series of experiments to determine the tissues' viability and functionality after thawing. Creating a bank of on-demand hPCLS for researchers would significantly positively impact the model's usefulness.


About the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS)

IIVS is a non-profit organization wholly dedicated to the promotion of non-animal test methods. Founded in 1997, IIVS is recognized as a leading provider of in vitro testing in support of toxicological safety evaluations. Rigorous scientific programs coupled with educational and outreach initiatives have established IIVS as a global leader in the advancement of alternatives to animal testing. For more information, visit us at

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Erin Hill
Phone: 301-947-1281

About RIFM

Established in 1966, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) generates, analyzes, evaluates, and distributes data to provide a scientific basis for the safe use of fragrances. RIFM has compiled the most comprehensive, worldwide source of toxicology data, literature, and general information on fragrance and flavor raw materials. RIFM's fragrance ingredient safety assessment program draws from its comprehensive database of over 70,000 references and more than 135,000 human health and environmental studies. The Expert Panel for Fragrance Safety, an independent, international team of researchers and academics with no ties to the fragrance industry, reviews and must approve all of RIFM's work before RIFM submits it for peer-reviewed publication. For more information, visit us at

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