EURL ECVAM Status Report 2019 is now available
The EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) just published its latest report on the development, validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods used for scientific purposes and their dissemination. The report describes an extensive overview of EURL ECVAM's main activities from the past year and the progress that has been made so far.
- Boosting research, development and validation activities
Mechanistic-based toxicity testing has evolved with the development of new 'read-across' approaches that exploit (chemical) structural features and in vitro bioactivity data to identify similar chemicals to fill data gaps and avoid unnecessary animal testing.
A lot of efforts were put in new testing methods and approaches to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals and to assess chemical mixtures. Additionally, promising results have been reported on the VAC2VAC project which aims at developing, standardising and validating non-animal-based methods for the safety and potency testing of vaccines for human and veterinary use.
Also progress has been made in the validation of in vitro methods in the areas of endocrine disruption (for the detection of chemicals that disrupt normal thyroid hormone function), skin sensitisation (transcriptomics-based in vitro methods) and genotoxicity (using micronucleus and 3D skin models).
- Promoting the use and acceptance of alternative methods
EURL ECVAM continues its activities to collaborate with EU agencies (ECHA, EFSA, EMA), regulators and other stakeholders in order to achieve an international harmonisation and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods in regulatory testing of chemicals and products.
According to EU statistics on the use of animals in scientific procedures, most animals are still being used in basic, applied and translational research. EURL ECVAM aims to stimulate the development and use of alternatives in this area as well, therefore, a list of non-animal models and methods which are currently applied in biomedical research is being reviewed. These methods are situated in the areas of respiratory tract diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, immunogenicity testing for advanced therapy medicinal products, autoimmune diseases and immune oncology models. The reviews were performed in 2019, and will be published in 2020.
- Disseminating of information on alternative methods
Education is key to achieve a paradigm shift on the use of animals for scientific purposes. Therefore, efforts have been made to develop guidance material for decision-makers in educational organisations on how to introduce the Three Rs in curricula. Additionally, teaching resources targeting secondary school, university students and early career scientists will be distributed in 2020.