Plan to reduce animal testing showcased at public forum
Participants in a May 24 public forum praised a recently published plan to replace animal use for U.S. safety testing. They encouraged agencies to stay engaged with efforts to achieve its goals.
Representatives of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) shared the strategic roadmap for incorporating new approaches into safety testing of chemicals and medical products in the U.S.
Activities guided by the plan are taking place within individual federal agencies, in collaborations among federal agencies, and in interactions among countries. These activities were described at the annual public meeting, held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
“There’s a lot each agency is doing to advance the 3Rs,” noted National Toxicology Program (NTP) scientist Warren Casey, Ph.D. The term 3Rs refers to replacing, reducing, and refining animal use in testing. Casey directs the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), which organized the meeting on behalf of ICCVAM.
Strategic plans and programs developed within ICCVAM member agencies will complement and build on the strategic roadmap. At the public forum, presenters described new and developing plans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Tox21 interagency collaboration.
NICEATM Deputy Director Nicole Kleinstreuer, Ph.D., and ICCVAM member Jill Merrill, Ph.D., from FDA, described progress in the areas of acute systemic toxicity, skin sensitization testing, and skin and eye irritation testing (see sidebar). These tests, known collectively as the six-pack, are required by regulatory agencies. Efforts to replace animals for these tests are increasing, both within the U.S. and internationally.
“A lot of folks are really interested in finding replacements for the acute systemic toxicity tests,” said Kleinstreuer. She referred to federal agencies participating in the ICCVAM Acute Toxicity Workgroup, which guides U.S. efforts in the area of acute systemic toxicity. “We also have liaison members, from international partners in the European Union and South Korea, who participate regularly in this workgroup.”
Vicki Katrinak from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) asked that ICCVAM consider the impact on animal use when prioritizing activities, citing vaccine testing as an example of an area that uses large numbers of animals. She also noted the importance of funding support for development of new methods. “HSUS is eager to help ICCVAM in further dissemination and uptake of these approaches in the U.S. and globally,” she stated.
NICEATM has posted a video of the meeting and presenters’ slides on the NTP website.
(Catherine Sprankle, NICEATM Communications Specialist, works for ILS, the contractor supporting NICEATM.)