Zebrafish is a fish that is used to assess whether new chemicals or cosmetics are toxic to our bodies or the environment, as 90% of genes are identical to humans. However, as Zebrafish was recently classified as a vertebrate, it faced ethical problems in animal testing, which is expected to be solved by using artificial human beings.
Kim Yong-Joon, head of the Environmental Safety Research Group at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology's European Institute, recently announced that his team developed an organoid simulating Zebrafish's liver with another research team led by professor Kong Hyunjoon from the University of Illinois. The research results were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
The study is meaningful in that it has developed a zebrafish’s artificial liver that can be used in real animal testing. Previously, there were zebrafish organoids, but in order to be used in animal experiments, organizations that could produce high concentrations of vitellogenin, an indicator substance, were needed. The research team used polyethylene glycol to create the skeleton of the organoid to grow the liver sell of zebrafish. As a result, they confirmed that the liver cells were self-assembled and maintained their shape for 28 days.
The research team has developed an artificial liver organoid of zebrafish for chronic toxicity testing that can identify long-term effects for more than six weeks through this culture method. This method can produce results similar to those tested directly on zebrafish without using real zebrafish.
In particular, a three-dimensional biometric system of zebrafish hepatocytes developed by the research team can be used to assess the long-term effects of endocrine disorders on the environment in a short period of time.
Kim Yong-Joon, who led the joint research team, said, "The short-term goal is to secure global-level animal replacement test-based toxicity assessment technology to lay the groundwork for technology transfer in Korea.”
"KIST European Research Institute has been focusing its efforts on developing a framework for toxic pathways for endocrine disorders in ecosystems since 2018 by concentrating its experience in environmental safety," said Kim Joon-Kyung, head of KIST Europe Research Institute. "Based on our own capabilities in the field of toxicity assessment and animal replacement testing methods, we will make efforts to support the development of safety and health technologies that are felt by the people," he said.