Members of the BUAV team, on behalf of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), attended the annual conference of the European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) in Brussels to hear about the latest developments in alternative methods in Europe, and how international cooperation has been progressing.
During the conference there were reports on alternatives from the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemicals sectors. We heard about work which has been undertaken with partners in India to reduce the numbers of animals used in vaccine batch testing. There were also presentations on the significant progress in replacing the Local Lymph Node Assay in mice (LLNA), which tests for skin allergy. A representative from BASF presented data comparing the efficiency of three in vitro methods to test the skin sensitising potential of 56 chemicals. It was concluded that a combination of the three tests was 94% accurate compared to the 89% accurate if the LLNA was used. These results have been submitted to ECVAM and are currently in the late stages of validation. A representative from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that it is expecting to receive the draft test guidelines for these methods early in 2013.
Of particular note were the comments made by a representative from the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Donald Prater, who stated that it was “clear that in vivo animal studies may not be the gold standard that new toxicology methods should be compared against”. He reiterated that many drugs tested preclinically in animals fail when they reach human trials as they do not accurately represent the human situation.
In the final session a roundtable discussion took place between regulators from Europe, the USA and China. There was consensus that progress has been made on alternatives to animal tests, but there is still much more which can be done. They all stressed the importance for international cooperation, which is something that we are already doing with our colleagues at the International Council on Animal Protection at the OECD (ICAPO).