Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Federal Agencies Seek Alternatives to Traditional Animal Testing

Here's a little non-food related news but some very good news for animals and advanced science:

A new plan to further reduce, refine and replace the use of animals in research and regulatory testing commonly referred to as the 3Rs was unveiled today at a symposium marking the 10-year anniversary of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). The plan identifies priority areas for research, development, translation, and validation activities necessary to achieve regulatory acceptance of alternative test methods. A cornerstone of the federal government's five-year plan is the formation of partnerships with industry and other national and international stakeholders to achieve measurable progress...

Traditionally, chemicals, consumer products, medical devices and new drugs are tested on animals to predict toxicity on humans, but scientists, like those involved in ICCVAM, are working to promote the development and validation of alternative test methods. Alternative test methods are those that accomplish one or more of the 3Rs of reducing the number of animals used in testing, or refining procedures so animals experience less pain and distress, or replacing animals with non-animal systems.

William Stokes, D.V.M., director of NICEATM, the NTP office at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that administers ICCVAM, highlighted some of the progress made since ICCVAM was formed, including the fact that ICCVAM has evaluated more than 185 test methods since its inception in 1997. Many of these methods need further development and validation before they are ready for regulatory consideration. However, several are now in widespread use around the world for routine safety testing, resulting in notable reduction and refinement of animal use. "We've made great progress in the past decade, and with the help of our partners we can do even more to increase the pace of developing and introducing alternative methods."

You can read the entire National Institutes of Health press release here.