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International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods

ICATM Workshop on Validation

In October 2018, members of the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM; see "About ICATM" below) will meet at a workshop, “Validation and Establishing Scientific Confidence.” Discussions in preparation for this workshop took place at the September 5-6, 2018 meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods.

ICATM Workshop on Skin Sensitization

In October 2016, ICATM convened a workshop, “International Regulatory Applicability and Acceptance of Alternative Approaches to Skin Sensitization Assessment of Chemicals.”

More About the Workshop

Workshop participants reviewed current international regulatory requirements for skin sensitization testing, including currently available non-animal approaches for this testing, and considered what steps should be taken to support regulatory acceptance of these approaches. A review of international requirements for skin sensitization testing (Daniel et al. 2018) was developed from the workshop. A position paper developed from the workshop (Casati et al. 2017) proposes practical ways to further promote the regulatory use and facilitate adoption of non-animal defined approaches for skin sensitization assessments.

Discussions at the workshop also formed the basis for a proposal to develop a performance-based test guideline (PBTG) for defined approaches for skin sensitization. The proposal was approved at the April 2017 meeting of the Working Group of National Coordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Approval of the proposal allowed for further development of the PBTG under the OECD annual work plan. PBTGs describe acceptable performance standards for a general class of test methods that are intended to measure the same biological effect. Approval of this PBTG will facilitate regulatory acceptance of this class of testing approaches for skin sensitization, rather than requiring separate test guidelines for individual testing approaches within the class. This is expected to more rapidly advance the goal of elimination of animal use for skin sensitization testing worldwide.

Several key issues required for acceptance of the PBTG were addressed at the April 2018 National Coordinators meeting, and an expert group was established to consider elements of the test guideline in more detail.

About ICATM

ICATM was originally established by a 2009 agreement signed by ICCVAM, the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM), the Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (JaCVAM), and Health Canada.

ICATM's Goals and Activities

ICATM's goals are:

  • To establish international cooperation in the critical areas of validation studies, independent peer review, and development of harmonized recommendations in order to ensure worldwide acceptance of alternative methods and strategies
  • To establish international cooperation necessary to ensure that new alternative test methods/strategies adopted for regulatory use will provide equivalent or improved protection for people, animals, and the environment, while replacing, reducing, or refining (causing less pain and distress) animal use where scientifically feasible

ICATM works to promote consistent and enhanced voluntary international cooperation, collaboration, and communication among national validation organizations in order to:

  • Ensure the optimal design and conduct of validation studies that will support national and international regulatory decisions on the usefulness and limitations of alternative methods proposed for regulatory testing
  • Ensure high quality independent scientific peer reviews of alternative test methods, and consistency in transparency and stakeholder involvement
  • Support development of harmonized recommendations by national validation organizations on the usefulness and limitations of alternative test methods for regulatory testing purposes
  • Achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness by avoiding duplication of effort and leveraging limited resources
  • Support the timely international adoption of alternative methods

An updated Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) adding the Korean Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (KoCVAM) to the ICATM agreement was signed in March 2011.

Updated ICATM MOC: signed March 8, 2011

Original ICATM MOC: signed April 27, 20094

Since 2015, China and Brazil have been participating in ICATM activities as observers. Both countries actively contributed to the 2016 workshop on skin sensitization.

ICATM Partner Organizations

ICCVAM

ICCVAM is an interagency committee of the U.S. government that coordinates technical reviews of alternative test methods and cross-agency activities relating to validation, acceptance, and harmonization of test methods.

European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing

EURL ECVAM is a unit within the Institute of Health and Consumer Protection in the European Union’s Joint Research Centre. EURL ECVAM coordinates the validation of alternative test methods at the European Union level.

View diagram illustrating ICCVAM interactions with EURL ECVAM 

Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods

JaCVAM, part of the Japanese National Institute of Health Sciences, coordinates the evaluation of alternative test methods for Japan.

Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods

The Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) and its subsidiary, the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (CaCVAM), are located at the University of Windsor. CCAAM and CaCVAM aim to develop, validate, and promote methodologies in biomedical research, education, and chemical toxicity testing that do not require the use of animals.

Coordination of Canadian activities within ICATM transitioned in 2017 to CCAAM from Health Canada, the original Canadian representative to ICATM. Health Canada continues to participate in ICATM activities.

Korean Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods

KoCVAM coordinates the evaluation of alternative test methods for South Korea. KoCVAM is part of the National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation of the South Korean Food and Drug Administration.

Status Updates from ICATM Partner Organizations

EURL ECVAM 2017 Status Report

Download EURL ECVAM Status Report 2017 from the European Commission Joint Research Centre website

Status of JaCVAM Activities

View page on JaCVAM website summarizing status of JaCVAM test method evaluations

EURL ECVAM Validation Study in the Field of Toxicokinetics and Metabolism

The European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) coordinated a validation study of two in vitro assays to evaluate human liver metabolism and toxicity. Representatives from NICEATM and ICCVAM participated on the management team for this validation study.

Details About the Study

In humans and other animals, chemical metabolism often involves liver enzymes called cytochrome P450s (CYPs). An EURL ECVAM study completed in 2013 assessed the potential for CYP enzyme induction at clinically relevant doses of pharmaceuticals in a human hepatoma cell line (HepaRG®) and cryopreserved human liver cells. This study provided a starting point for the development of novel in vitro platforms to assess chemical and drug metabolism and toxicity, with the ultimate goal of providing a metabolically competent in vitro alternative for long-term toxicity studies.

The EURL ECVAM validation report for this study was submitted to the EURL ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee for peer review in 2014. Peer review reports for the method using the HepaRG cell line and cryopreserved human liver cells are available in the EURL ECVAM Tracking System for Alternative Methods Towards Regulatory Acceptance (TSAR) database. The peer review concluded that the approach was not yet ready for regulatory use.

A draft test guideline for in vitro measurement of CYP enzyme induction is currently under consideration by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In a recent publication (Hakkola et al. 2018), EURL ECVAM provided support for the usefulness of these methods for chemical toxicity assessments.