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ICCVAM Biennial Report 2018-2019

Biennial Progress Report 2018-2019 Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods

Caenorhabditis elegans Assays for Developmental Neurotoxicity

Caenorhabditis elegans are small, non-pathogenic roundworms with many specialized tissues that function in ways that correspond to vertebrate organs. Many cellular and genetic pathways involved in development, neuronal architecture and function, and toxic mode of action are conserved between worms and humans (Hunt 2017). C. elegans’ 3-day lifecycle and ease of maintenance suggest that the organism could be a good candidate model for fast and inexpensive alternatives to mammalian testing, but only if specific assays can be demonstrated to provide data that corresponds to mammalian toxic response. The worm development and activity test, developed by the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, shows promise for identifying mammalian developmental neurotoxins (Hunt et al. 2018). The test is currently being assessed using a panel of 20 blinded compounds with known developmental and neurotoxicity effects in mammals.