ATLA 30.S2, December 2002

//ATLA 30.S2, December 2002

The Importance of ECVAM

Kees van Leeuwen

Working in the Commission is a challenge. This was one of the first lessons I learned from Michael Balls when I arrived at Ispra in January 2002, when he explained to me the duties of ECVAM. The area of alternatives was a special surprise for me, as I did not expect such strong political support and such a high visibility for the work of ECVAM. In every policy forum on cosmetics or chemicals, or in meetings with the European Parliament or the JRC Board of Governors, there is a request to do more on alternative tests. Alternatives are in the picture, and ECVAM is in the spotlight all the time!
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2017-01-09T06:29:43+00:00 Tags: , |

The Establishment of ECVAM and its Progress Since 1993

Michael Balls

The background to the establishment of ECVAM in 1991 is summarised, and progress made since 1993 is briefly reviewed in relation to 12 recommendations made at the ECVAM Opening Symposium in 1994 and to statements on tests for chemicals and biologicals endorsed by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee since 1997.
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ECVAM’s Activities on Computer Modelling and Integrated Testing

Andrew P. Worth

This paper introduces the basic concepts of quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR), expert system and integrated testing strategy, and explains how the analogy between QSARs and prediction models leads naturally to criteria for the validation of QSARs. ECVAM's in-house research programme on QSAR modelling and integrated testing is summarised, along with plans for the validation of QSAR models and expert system rulebases at the European Union level.
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The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM): A Review of the ICCVAM Test Method Evaluation Process and Current International Collaborations with the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM)

William S. Stokes, Leonard M. Schechtman and Richard N. Hill

Over the last decade, national authorities in the USA and Europe have launched initiatives to validate new and improved toxicological test methods. In the USA, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), and its supporting National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), were established by the Federal Government to work with test developers and Federal agencies to facilitate the validation, review, and adoption of new scientifically sound test methods, including alternatives that can reduce, refine, and replace animal use. In Europe, the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) was established to conduct validation studies on alternative test methods. Despite differences in organisational structure and processes, both organisations seek to achieve the adoption and use of alternative test methods. Accordingly, both have adopted similar validation and regulatory acceptance criteria. Collaborations and processes have also evolved to facilitate the international adoption of new test methods recommended by ECVAM and ICCVAM. These collaborations involve the sharing of expertise and data for test-method workshops and independent scientific peer reviews, and the adoption of processes to expedite the consideration of test methods already reviewed by the other organisation. More recently, NICEATM and ECVAM initiated a joint international validation study on in vitro methods for assessing acute systemic toxicity. These collaborations are expected to contribute to accelerated international adoption of harmonised new test methods that will support improved public health and provide for reduced and more-humane use of laboratory animals.
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Validation Successes: Chemicals

Horst Spielmann and Manfred Liebsch

The ECVAM validation concept, which was defined at two validation workshops held in Amden (Switzerland) in 1990 and 1994, and which takes into account the essential elements of prevalidation and biostatistically defined prediction models, has been officially accepted by European Union (EU) Member States, by the Federal regulatory agencies of the USA, and by the OECD. The ECVAM validation concept was introduced into the ongoing ECVAM/COLIPA validation study of in vitro phototoxicity tests, which ended successfully in 1998. The 3T3 neutral red uptake in vitro phototoxicity test was the first experimentally validated in vitro toxicity test recommended for regulatory purposes by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC). It was accepted by the EU into the legislation for chemicals in the year 2000. From 1996 to 1998, two in vitro skin corrosivity tests were successfully validated by ECVAM, and they were also officially accepted into the EU regulations for chemicals in the year 2000. Meanwhile, in 2002, the OECD Test Guidelines Programme is considering the worldwide acceptance of the validated in vitro phototoxicity and corrosivity tests. Finally, from 1997 to 2000, an ECVAM validation study on three in vitro embryotoxicity tests was successfully completed. Therefore, the three in vitro embryotoxicity tests, the whole embryo culture (WEC) test on rat embryos, the micromass (MM) test on limb bud cells of mouse embryos, and the embryonic stem cell test (EST) including a permanent embryonic mouse stem cell line, are considered to be scientifically valid and appropriate for routine use in laboratories of the European pharmaceutical and chemicals industries.
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ECVAM’s Role in the Implementation of the Three Rs Concept in the Field of Biologicals

Coenraad Hendriksen, Klaus Cussler and Marlies Halder

Biologicals can be defined as products that are derived from living organisms or are produced by them. They include vaccines, hormones, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, blood products and rDNA products. The production of conventionally produced biologicals requires an extensive batch-related quality control, to ensure that these products are both safe and potent. As several of the control tests rely on animal models, it is inevitable that large numbers of animals are used. Many initiatives have been undertaken in the last few decades to reduce, refine and replace the use of animals in this area. ECVAM has been involved in many activities to support the development, validation and implementation of these Three Rs methods. The role that ECVAM has played in a number of validation studies is summarised. It is concluded that ECVAM should continue to support the activities that have been shown to be successful, preferably in collaboration with the regulatory authorities.
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Comparison and Validation of Novel Pyrogen Tests Based on the Human Fever Reaction

Thomas Hartung and Members of the Human(e) Pyrogen Test Study Group

The Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL) test has replaced about 80% of the use of the rabbit pyrogen test. Ideally, human-based in vitro tests are needed, to replace the remaining use of the rabbit test and the use of the LAL test. The progress of an EU-funded project is described, in which a number of in vitro tests based on the human fever reaction are passing through a prevalidation study on the way to evaluation in a formal validation study.
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Transepithelial Resistance and Inulin Permeability as Endpoints in In Vitro Nephrotoxicity Testing

Tracey Duff, Simon Carter, Gemma Feldman, Gordon McEwan, Walter Pfaller, Pauline Rhodes, Michael Ryan and Gabrielle Hawksworth

Transepithelial electrical resistance (RT) and the flux of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) across Madin Darby canine kidney (MDCK) strain 1 cells and porcine epithelial kidney (LLC-PK1) monolayers were compared between three laboratories for a range of nephrotoxins. The precision of the REMS AutoSampler was similar to that of the Ussing chamber and the ENDOHM® technique, but superior to using chopstick electrodes, for measurements of resistance. The nephrotoxins used were selective for the proximal tubule, and in all cases, LLC-PK1 cells were more sensitive than MDCK cells. In most cases, change in RT was a more sensitive indicator of damage than alterations in FITC flux. The REMS system provides high intra-plate precision for RT measurements and is a higher throughput system, which is applicable to screening for nephrotoxicity in vitro.
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ECVAM’s Activities in Validating Alternative Tests for Skin Corrosion and Irritation

Julia H. Fentem and Philip A. Botham

ECVAM has funded and managed validation studies on in vitro tests for skin corrosion, resulting in the validities of four in vitro tests being endorsed by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee: the rat skin transcutaneous electrical resistance (TER) assay, two tests based on the use of commercial reconstituted human skin equivalents, EPISKIN™ and EpiDerm™, and another commerciallyproduced test, CORROSITEX®. In the European Union (EU), a new test method on skin corrosion (B.40), incorporating the rat skin TER and human skin model assays, was included in Annex V of Directive 67/548/EEC in mid-2000, thereby making the use of in vitro alternatives for skin corrosion testing of chemicals mandatory in the EU. At the recommendation of its Skin Irritation Task Force, ECVAM has funded prevalidation studies on five in vitro tests for acute skin irritation: EpiDerm, EPISKIN, PREDISKIN™, the pig-ear test, and the mouse-skin integrity function test (SIFT). However, none of the tests met the criteria (set by the Management Team for the studies) for inclusion in a large-scale formal validation study. Thus, to date, there are no validated in vitro tests for predicting the dermal irritancy of chemicals. Following further work on the EPISKIN, EpiDerm and SIFT test protocols and/or prediction models after the completion of the prevalidation studies, it appears that the modified tests could meet the performance criteria defined for progression to a validation study. This will now be assessed independently by the ECVAM Skin Irritation Task Force, with the objective of taking a decision before the end of 2002 on whether to conduct a formal validation study.
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Ocular Safety: A Silent (In Vitro) Success Story

Rodger D. Curren and John W. Harbell

Ocular irritation testing has been one of the animal test methods most criticised by animal welfare advocates. Additional criticism has arisen from within the scientific community, based on the variability of the animal test results and the questionable relevance of the extremely high dose levels employed. As a result, the Draize eye irritation test has been one of the main targets for in vitro replacement. Despite extensive efforts, however, there is still no in vitro method that is fully validated as a regulatory replacement. In spite of this, many individual companies are using diverse in vitro ocular irritation tests to gain important safety and efficacy information about their products and raw materials, eliminating the need for animal testing in the process. This is done in a safe fashion by applying intelligent testing paradigms. ECVAM has played a major role in this success, through its many programmes that have emphasised the importance of understanding the true toxicological need, and then using in vitro tests to provide that information. Thus, even in the absence of a successfully validated regulatory assay, the desired result of reducing animal testing is being met.
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