ICCVAM establishes ad hoc workgroups to perform specific tasks important for the development or validation of alternatives to animal testing. The workgroups are composed of representatives from agencies that use or require data from the topic of interest. Representatives of partner organizations in the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods may also be invited to participate in a workgroup.
ICCVAM workgroups play a key role in carrying out ICCVAM activities, including implementing the goals of the Strategic Roadmap for Establishing New Approaches to Evaluate the Safety of Chemicals and Medical Products in the United States. This page lists and describes currently active ICCVAM workgroups, with links to more detailed descriptions of relevant activities.
Acute Toxicity Workgroup
Fostering the evaluation, promotion, and harmonization of alternatives to animal use for acute systemic toxicity testing has long been one of ICCVAM’s priorities. The Acute Toxicity Workgroup evaluates the usefulness of various types of data, data analyses, and testing approaches for classifying and predicting acute oral, dermal, and inhalation systemic toxicity. The workgroup has members from six ICCVAM agencies.
Recent and ongoing activities include:
- Publishing a scoping document (Strickland et al. 2018) that identifies U.S. agency information requirements, needs, and decision contexts for acute systemic toxicity testing.
- Organizing a global project to develop in silico models of acute oral systemic toxicity that predict five specific endpoints needed by regulatory agencies.
- Analyzing variability of in vivo data used as benchmarks for evaluating alternative methods.
- Evaluating the usefulness of additivity formulas for hazard classification of formulations and mixtures.
- Assessing the usefulness of available in vitro and in silico models for acute inhalation toxicity.
While the focus of ICCVAM activities has largely been on human health, ICCVAM also recognizes the need to implement non-animal approaches for ecotoxicity testing. The Ecotoxicity Workgroup was established to provide expertise in identifying and evaluating in vitro and in silico methods to identify ecological and environmental hazards. The workgroup has members from seven ICCVAM agencies.
Ongoing activities include preparing a summary of agency needs for ecotoxicity testing, emerging technologies for evaluating ecotoxicity and environmental safety, and the potential applicability of those technologies for regulatory testing. This work will be described in a paper to be submitted for publication in 2020.
In Vitro to In Vivo Extrapolation Workgroup
IVIVE relates chemical concentrations that induce a response in an in vitro assay to chemical exposures that induce relevant effects in vivo. IVIVE can facilitate the use of in vitro toxicity testing data in risk assessment and regulatory decision-making.
The ICCVAM IVIVE Workgroup currently has members from seven ICCVAM agencies. It was established to catalog and evaluate currently available IVIVE approaches, to determine their suitability for specific research or regulatory purposes, and to assess whether additional tools or models are needed. The workgroup’s findings will be reported in a paper to be submitted for publication in 2021.
In September 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report, “Animal Use in Research: Federal Agencies Should Assess and Report on Their Efforts to Develop and Promote Alternatives.” The report describes how federal agencies ensure that researchers consider the use of alternatives to animals, and examines the steps the agencies have taken to facilitate the use of alternative research methods and to assess the effect of their efforts on animal use.
The report recommended that ICCVAM establish a workgroup to develop metrics that ICCVAM member agencies could use to assess progress made toward reducing, refining, or replacing animal use in testing. Furthermore, the report recommended that such metrics be incorporated into ICCVAM Biennial Progress Reports.
In response, ICCVAM established its Metrics Workgroup in early 2020. The workgroup includes members from nine ICCVAM agencies. It is currently developing objectives and determining how agencies can best address the report recommendations within the context of the ICCVAM Authorization Act.
Nanomaterials are used in a broad range of consumer products, but their unique properties make them challenging to test in both in vivo and in vitro toxicity assays. ICCVAM established the Nanomaterials Workgroup to evaluate the suitability of alternative methods to assess potential toxicity of nanomaterials. The workgroup has members from seven ICCVAM agencies.
The workgroup has surveyed federal agencies to determine needs and activities relevant to nanomaterials testing, potential applicability of alternative methods to testing needs, and the challenges that would be faced in implementing them. Its findings will be reported in a paper to be submitted for publication in 2020.
Read-across is a computational technique that uses toxicity data from data-rich chemicals to predict toxicity for an untested or data-poor chemical. In some cases, use of read-across enables identification of potential hazards without animal use.
ICCVAM established its Read-across Workgroup to build read-across capacity within member agencies, raise awareness of the state of the science, and work towards harmonization of read-across approaches. The workgroup has members from six ICCVAM agencies.
The workgroup conducted a survey of the current applications, tools used, and needs of the seven agencies represented on the workgroup for read-across. The paper summarizing the survey (Patlewicz et al. 2019) also provided practical case studies to illustrate how the read-across approaches applied by two agencies varied on account of decision context. The workgroup is continuing to evaluate case studies of read-across use to determine how use and applications of read-across can be broadened.
ICCVAM Expert Groups
ICCVAM also establishes expert groups to facilitate communication among agencies on a specific area of interest. Expert groups can be established from workgroups that have completed their charge tasks, or by agency representatives that share interest in a topic for which no specific activity has been identified. ICCVAM currently has expert groups in the areas of developmental and reproductive toxicity, ocular and dermal irritation, and skin sensitization.