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NICEATM and ICCVAM accomplishments in 2014 and 2015 have potential impact on animal use worldwide.
Acute systemic toxicity tests identify short-term toxic effects that appear soon after a substance is swallowed, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. ICCVAM member agencies are evaluating methods that can reduce the number of animals required for acute toxicity testing or replace animal tests with non-animal alternatives.
Biologics are products derived from biological sources and used as medicines in humans or animals. ICCVAM agencies are working to identify methods that will refine existing testing procedures or reduce or eliminate the need for animal testing for biologics.
Ecotoxicity testing refers both to the assessment of chemical effects on fish, birds, or other wild organisms and the testing of soil, sediment, or effluents for the presence of toxic compounds. Ecotoxicity testing can require animal testing using either the species of interest or animal models of the species of interest. ICCVAM member agencies are exploring ways to reduce or replace animal use for ecotoxicity studies.
Endocrine disruptors include a wide range of compounds that interfere with normal hormone function by mimicking or blocking their action, which may cause adverse health effects. ICCVAM agencies are currently exploring how high throughput screening approaches can be used to identify potential endocrine disruptors without using animals.
Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that may develop in workers and consumers exposed to skin-sensitizing chemicals. Traditional test methods for identifying skin-sensitizing chemicals use guinea pigs or mice, but ICCVAM is developing integrated testing strategies that enable identification of potential skin sensitizers using only in vitro and in silico test data and physicochemical properties.
Manufacturers test personal care products, household cleaning supplies, and other substances to determine if they could cause temporary or permanent eye damage. ICCVAM scientists participate in evaluations of test methods that assess eye irritation hazard potential without using animals, and ICCVAM agencies have provided guidance on reducing or replacing animal use for this testing.
Photosafety testing is conducted to determine if a topically applied or systemically administered substance will cause a skin reaction after subsequent exposure to light. ICCVAM agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are accepting alternative tests to reduce or replace animal use for photosafety testing.
Reproductive toxicity tests assess a substance’s tendency to cause reproductive system effects, while developmental toxicity testing evaluates the extent to which exposure to a substance may harm a developing embryo or fetus. ICCVAM agencies are working with regulatory and industry partners to explore alternative approaches that use fewer animals to make accurate developmental and reproductive safety assessments.
Many ICCVAM member agencies engage in research activities that focus both on developing new test methods and exploring new technologies that may support future test method development. Effective translation of technological advances into new test methods should allow better protection of public health while addressing animal use and welfare concerns.
In addition to research and validation, ICCVAM agencies are engaged in activities to inform stakeholders about and promote the use of alternative methods.