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National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program

UPDATE NewsletterUPDATE NewsletterOctober 2019

The NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM)

By Catherine Sprankle

EPA Announces Actions to Reduce Animal Testing

A September 10 news release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a directive to prioritize efforts to reduce animal testing. The directive calls for reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035. EPA will also provide funding to universities to research the development and use of alternative testing strategies that reduce, refine, and/or replace vertebrate animal testing. Studies funded include in vitro models to test for developmental and reproductive toxicants, neurotoxins, and toxicity of complex environmental mixtures.

A September 17 EPA news release announced a draft science policy to reduce testing on birds when registering conventional outdoor pesticides. The draft policy is open for public comment until November 1. A study by EPA and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals evaluated the contributions of both single oral dose and subacute dietary toxicity studies to conclusions of acute avian toxicity risk. The study indicated that, in most cases, the subacute dietary results had little impact on risk conclusions arrived upon by use of acute oral data alone. This finding is expected to reduce the number of animals tested for this purpose by over 700 animals per year.

FDA Presents Update on Predictive Toxicology Roadmap; Video Available

At the September 18 public workshop, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presented an update on activities to implement its Predictive Toxicology Roadmap. Speakers from seven FDA centers described how predictive toxicology methods are being advanced towards application to safety and risk assessments. Recordings of the meeting webcast are available on the FDA website.

SACATM Comments on ICCVAM Activities and Direction

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods (SACATM) met September 19-20 in Arlington, Virginia. In presentations at the meeting, scientists from NICEATM, member agencies of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), and NICEATM and ICCVAM collaborators described advances in alternatives to animal use.

In general, SACATM members expressed support for the current activities and direction of ICCVAM and noted the progress that has been made in advancing alternatives to animal testing. Discussions on the use of computational methods focused on the limitations and applications of machine learning models in predicting toxicology. Considering the potential uses of microphysiological systems (also known as “tissue chips”) for predicting human toxicity, SACATM members suggested these systems might be most useful for early-stage toxicity screening, evaluating effects on diverse populations, and providing models for applications lacking established animal models. They cautioned, however, that the context of use for these platforms would need to be clearly defined. Presentations from the meeting will be available soon on the NTP website, with minutes posted in several weeks.

SACATM meets annually to advise NICEATM, ICCVAM, and the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences regarding statutorily mandated duties of ICCVAM and activities of NICEATM.

NICEATM Activities at ASCCT Annual Meeting

The American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology (ASCCT) held its annual meeting on September 24-26 at the Hilton Washington DC North in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The theme was “Computational Toxicology: Peeking into the Clouds While Keeping Our Feet on Solid Ground.” NICEATM Deputy Director Nicole Kleinstreuer, a featured speaker at the meeting, presented the talk “The March Toward Big Data in Toxicology: Striking a Balance Between Machine Learning and Mechanistic Modeling.” Shannon Bell, ILS (contractor supporting NICEATM) gave an oral presentation titled “Good Decisions Require Good Data: Creating Curated and Structured Resources for Toxicology.” NICEATM also presented two posters. More information about NICEATM activities at ASCCT is available on the NTP website.

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The Update Newsletter is produced by NTP Office of Liaison, Policy, and Review. The text is not copyrighted and can be reprinted without permission. If you use parts of the Update Newsletter in your publication, we ask that you provide us with a copy for our records. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Director of Office of Liaison, Policy, and Review and Editor-in-Chief: Mary Wolfe | Managing Editor: Anna Lee Mosley