Replacing animal testing for Langerhans cell histiocytosis

Caroline Hutter’s group at St. Anna CCRI recently received a major grant from the FWF to develop advanced, animal-free therapeutic approaches for the treatment of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH). This rare disease, caused by an excessive accumulation of langerin expressing cells, poses a major challenge, especially for young children.

LCH is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of cells due to a mutation in the MAPK signaling pathway. Among other things, this signaling pathway controls cell differentiation and controlled cell death. The disease shows a broad spectrum of symptoms and affects various organs, which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult. Severe forms of LCH can cause life-threatening health problems, while localized cases often heal on their own.

Refine, reduce, replace animal testing

To improve the treatment of LCH while promoting ethical research practices, the project focuses on implementing the 3Rs principle (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement). Animal testing will be replaced by advanced human cell culture techniques based on the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). This technique allows researchers to study the disease at the cellular level, analyzing the effects of different inhibitors of the MAPK pathway.

Research that gives hope

The results of the research should not only provide new insights into the biology of LCH, but also contribute to the development of targeted therapies that target mutated cells. The aim is to lay the foundation for new clinical trials and create improved treatment strategies for LCH.