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Friday, 08 February 2019 14:21

JRC: ECVAM Status Report 2018 launched Featured

The European Union's reference laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) has published its annual status report for 2018. It provides information on developments, validations and regulatory acceptance of alternatives to animal testing in 2018.

Significant progress has been made in the areas of toxicology and safety assessment to show how in vitro methods and computer programs can be combined to uncover toxicological properties between similar chemicals. This could avoid unnecessary animal testing.

In addition, non-animal methods could increasingly be used to evaluate endocrine disruptors and chemical mixtures. However, the complete characterisation of complex toxic properties of chemicals, e.g. the evaluation of chronic systemic health effects solely with alternative methods remains a challenge.

In this context, in a brief interview on the status report publication, the director of ECVAM, Dr Maurice Whelan, reported that EU policy aims indeed for the ultimate goal of a complete phase-out of animal testing. However, the transition from animal testing in areas such as safety assessment and biomedical research has to be "gradual and
responsible" in order to "balance ethical concerns with societal needs". The fact seems to be that there is still a lack of convincing animal-free approaches that can solve the more difficult scientific and regulatory issues.

In the field of ecotoxicology, there is also a progress: a threshold approach (eco-TTC, Toxicological Concern Approach) has been developed for bioaccumulation testing, which is part of the environmental impact assessment. An integrated, animal-free testing approach for predicting the bioaccumulation potential in fish has been developed,
too. In addition, new methods have been validated: to determine skin sensitization potential of chemicals and another to test acute toxicity in fish.

Two validation studies conducted by ECVAM dealt with alternative methods for the determination of endocrine disruptors. In the brief interview, Dr ValeriƩ Zuang from ECVAM confirmed that in the case of these endocrine-disrupting substances, the type of mechanistic information that can be obtained from alternative methods is very valuable for a determination whether a chemical actually interferes with the hormonal system thus causing a negative impact on health.

In the field of biomedical research, EURL ECVAM launched an comprehensive study to investigate the use of alternative methods and models for Understanding biology and diseases and for a development of new approaches in diagnosis and therapy.

At the end of last Year, EURL ECVAM conducted an international survey among developers to reflect the application potential and the impact of new organ-on-chip devices. A goal was to identify end-users' questions whose answers could contribute to confidence in this technology. ECVAM will also seek views on how best to address validation in order to facilitate the adoption and acceptance of these new methods.

Source and access to Status Report 2018: