It has now been 11 years since the EU’s new chemicals legislation (Regulation No. 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals [REACH]) came into force. Two important statements in the REACH Regulation in relation to animal testing and alternatives are: Article 1(1), which states that one of its purposes is to promote alternative methods; and Article 25(1), which states that animal testing should be used as a last resort. This review looks at the mechanisms that were put in place within REACH to achieve these aims and asks, not only if they are being implemented properly, but also if they have been sufficient. Whilst the chemical industry has heavily used data-sharing and read-across, this review concludes that nevertheless over 2.2 million animals have already been used in new tests for REACH registrations. This equates to an annual average of 275,000 animals; 58,000 more per year than the best-case estimate made by the European Commission in 2004. The use of in vitro and (Q)SAR approaches as standalone replacements for animal tests has been relatively low. The levels of funding for research into alternative methods remain low, and there are concerns over the speed of formal adoption of those that have been validated. In addition, there have been issues with the recognition that testing as a last resort and the promotion of alternative methods applies to all parties, including the Commission, Member States and the agency responsible, the European Chemicals Agency. This review provides ten recommendations for better implementation of these two key aspirations, as well as lessons to be learned for future similar legislation.
A comparison of pyrogen detection tests in the quality control of meningococcal conjugate vaccines: The applicability of the Monocyte Activation Test
Vitor Fernandes Silva, Daniel da Silva Guedes Junior, Ivna Alana da Silveira, Alessandra Santos Almeida, Fernando de Paiva Conte, Isabella Fernandes Delgado, Cristiane Caldeira Silva, Octavio Augusto França Presgrave and Katherine Antunes de Mattos
The meningococcal C conjugate vaccine (MenCC) is an interesting model with which to test the efficacy of the Monocyte Activation Test (MAT) as an alternative method of pyrogen testing in the quality control of vaccines. The MenCC that has been produced by Bio-Manguinhos in Brazil is in the final development stage, and, as recommended in the guidelines for MenCC production, its pyrogen content must be determined by using the Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay and the Rabbit Pyrogen Test (RPT). This represents an ideal opportunity to compare LAL and RPT data with data obtained by using a MAT system with cryopreserved whole blood and IL-6/IL-1beta as marker readouts. In order to assess the compatibility of the MAT with MenCC, endotoxin and non-endotoxin pyrogen content was quantified by using MenCC samples spiked with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), lipoteichoic acid or zymosan standards. The presence of the aluminium-based adjuvant interfered with the MAT, increasing the readout of IL-1beta in LPS-spiked MenCC batches. This infringed the product-specific validation criteria of the test, and led to IL-6 being chosen as the more suitable marker readout. No pyrogenic contaminants were identified in the MenCC batches tested, demonstrating consistency among the different systems (MAT, RPT and the LAL assay). In conclusion, the introduction of the MAT during MenCC development could contribute to the elimination of animal tests post-licensing, ensuring human protection based on an effective non-animal based method of quality control.
Applicability of the Monocyte Activation Test (MAT) in the Quality Control of the 17DD Yellow Fever Vaccine
Katherine Antunes de Mattos, Elaine Cristina Azevedo Navega, Vitor Fernandes Silva, Alessandra Santos Almeida, Cristiane Caldeira da Silva, Octavio Augusto França Presgrave, Daniel da Silva Guedes Junior and Isabella Fernandes Delgado
The need for alternatives to animal use in pyrogen testing has been driven by the Three Rs concept. This has resulted in the inclusion of the monocyte activation test (MAT) in the European Pharmacopoeia, 2010. However, some technical and regulatory obstacles must be overcome to ensure the effective implementation of the MAT by the industry, especially for the testing of biological products. The yellow fever (YF) vaccine (17DD-YFV) was chosen for evaluation in this study, in view of: a) the 2016–2018 outbreak of YF in Brazil; b) the increase in demand for 17DD-YFV doses; c) the complex production process with live attenuated virus; d) the presence of possible test interference factors, such as residual process components (e.g. ovalbumin); and e) the need for the investigation of other pyrogens that are not detectable by the methods prescribed in the YF vaccine monograph. The product-specific testing was carried out by using cryopreserved and fresh whole blood, and IL-6 and IL-1β levels were used as the marker readouts. After assessing the applicability of the MAT on a 1:10 dilution of 17DD-YFV, endotoxin and non-endotoxin pyrogens were quantified in spiked batches, by using the lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid standards, respectively. The quantitative analysis demonstrated the correlation between the MAT and the Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL) assays, with respect to the limits of endotoxin recovery in spiked batches and the detection of no pyrogenic contamination in commercial batches of 17DD-YFV. The data demonstrated the applicability of the MAT for 17DD-YFV pyrogen testing, and as an alternative method that can contribute to biological quality control studies.
Establishment of a Tumour–Stroma Airway Model (OncoCilAir) to Accelerate the Development of Human Therapies Against Lung Cancer
Christophe Mas, Bernadett Boda, Mireille Caul Futy, Song Huang, Ludovic Wisniewski and Samuel Constant
This paper highlights the work for which OncoTheis, a Swiss biotechnology company, engaged in the development of innovative bioengineered tissues and organoids for cancer research, was co-awarded the 2015 Lush Science Prize. Noting that the use of animal models failed to lead to the design of effective treatments for cancer, OncoTheis has opted to develop in vitro models based exclusively on human cells. The company currently focuses on lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with more than one million deaths per year. To address this public health concern, we developed OncoCilAir™, a new 3-D model that mimics in vitro the progression of the disease as it happens in patients. In this system, bronchial and lung tumour cells obtained from discarded surgical tissue are cocultured in a Petri dish to reconstitute a fragment of the human lung. After appropriate differentiation, the culture closely reproduces malignant pulmonary nodules invading a small piece of functional airway tissue. As OncoCilAir includes both healthy and cancerous tissues, it can be used to test tumour-killing activity and the adverse effects of chemotherapies and other anti-cancer drugs. Moreover, a single culture can be maintained for up to three months, which permits studies of longer-term effects, including the assessment of drug resistance and tumour recurrence. OncoCilAir heralds a new generation of integrated in vitro models, which is expected to increase the quality of preclinical research while replacing animal testing.
Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM) and the Process of Validation in Brazil
Octavio Presgrave, Wlamir Moura, Cristiane Caldeira, Elisabete Pereira, Maria H. Villas Boas and Chantra Eskes
The need for the creation of a Brazilian centre for the validation of alternative methods was recognised in 2008, and members of academia, industry and existing international validation centres immediately engaged with the idea. In 2012, co-operation between the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) and the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) instigated the establishment of the Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM), which was officially launched in 2013. The Brazilian validation process follows OECD Guidance Document No. 34, where BraCVAM functions as the focal point to identify and/or receive requests from parties interested in submitting tests for validation. BraCVAM then informs the Brazilian National Network on Alternative Methods (RENaMA) of promising assays, which helps with prioritisation and contributes to the validation studies of selected assays. A Validation Management Group supervises the validation study, and the results obtained are peer-reviewed by an ad hoc Scientific Review Committee, organised under the auspices of BraCVAM. Based on the peer-review outcome, BraCVAM will prepare recommendations on the validated test method, which will be sent to the National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA). CONCEA is in charge of the regulatory adoption of all validated test methods in Brazil, following an open public consultation.
Toward the Replacement of Animal Experiments through the Bioinformatics-driven Analysis of ‘Omics’ Data from Human Cell Cultures
Roland C. Grafström, Penny Nymark, Vesa Hongisto, Ola Spjuth, Rebecca Ceder, Egon Willighagen, Barry Hardy, Samuel Kaski and Pekka Kohonen
This paper outlines the work for which Roland Grafström and Pekka Kohonen were awarded the 2014 Lush Science Prize. The research activities of the Grafström laboratory have, for many years, covered cancer biology studies, as well as the development and application of toxicity-predictive in vitro models to determine chemical safety. Through the integration of in silico analyses of diverse types of genomics data (transcriptomic and proteomic), their efforts have proved to fit well into the recently-developed Adverse Outcome Pathway paradigm. Genomics analysis within state-of-the-art cancer biology research and Toxicology in the 21st Century concepts share many technological tools. A key category within the Three Rs paradigm is the Replacement of animals in toxicity testing with alternative methods, such as bioinformatics-driven analyses of data obtained from human cell cultures exposed to diverse toxicants. This work was recently expanded within the pan-European SEURAT-1 project (Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing), to replace repeat-dose toxicity testing with data-rich analyses of sophisticated cell culture models. The aims and objectives of the SEURAT project have been to guide the application, analysis, interpretation and storage of ‘omics’ technology-derived data within the service-oriented sub-project, ToxBank. Particularly addressing the Lush Science Prize focus on the relevance of toxicity pathways, a ‘data warehouse’ that is under continuous expansion, coupled with the development of novel data storage and management methods for toxicology, serve to address data integration across multiple ‘omics’ technologies. The prize winners’ guiding principles and concepts for modern knowledge management of toxicological data are summarised. The translation of basic discovery results ranged from chemical-testing and material testing data, to information relevant to human health and environmental safety.
To Be Credible, Success in “Reducing the Use of Animals in Scientific Research” Must Involve the Use of Fewer Animals
Much worthy effort on the Three Rs is under way in the UK, but its promise of a reduction in laboratory animal use will only be credible and laudable when the number of procedures and animals are progressively and permanently reduced.
The EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test (EIT) for Hazard Identification and Labelling of Eye Irritating Chemicals: Protocol Optimisation for Solid Materials and the Results after Extended Shipment
Yulia Kaluzhny, Helena Kandárová, Yuki Handa, Jane DeLuca, Thoa Truong, Amy Hunter, Paul Kearney, Laurence d’Argembeau-Thornton and Mitchell Klausner
The 7th Amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive and the EU REACH Regulation have reinforced the need for in vitro ocular test methods. Validated in vitro ocular toxicity tests that can predict the human response to chemicals, cosmetics and other consumer products are required for the safety assessment of materials that intentionally, or inadvertently, come into contact with the eye. The EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test (EIT), which uses the normal human cell-based EpiOcular™ tissue model, was developed to address this need. The EpiOcular-EIT is able to discriminate, with high sensitivity and accuracy, between ocular irritant/corrosive materials and those that require no labelling. Although the original EpiOcular-EIT protocol was successfully pre-validated in an international, multicentre study sponsored by COLIPA (the predecessor to Cosmetics Europe), data from two larger studies (the EURL ECVAM–COLIPA validation study and an independent in-house validation at BASF SE) resulted in a sensitivity for the protocol for solids that was below the acceptance criteria set by the Validation Management Group (VMG) for eye irritation, and indicated the need for improvement of the assay’s sensitivity for solids. By increasing the exposure time for solid materials from 90 minutes to 6 hours, the optimised EpiOcular-EIT protocol achieved 100% sensitivity, 68.4% specificity and 84.6% accuracy, thereby meeting all the acceptance criteria set by the VMG. In addition, to satisfy the needs of Japan and the Pacific region, the EpiOcular-EIT method was evaluated for its performance after extended shipment and storage of the tissues (4–5 days), and it was confirmed that the assay performs with similar levels of sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility in these circumstances.
Participation of Brazil in the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences: An Increase in Commitment to the Three Rs
Octavio Presgrave, Cristiane Caldeira, Wlamir Moura, Mayara Cruz, Gisele Méier, Elisabete dos Santos and Maria H.V. Boas
Many Brazilian researchers have long been interested in the development and use of alternative methods. Most of their research groups work in isolation, due to the lack of funding for collaborative studies. Despite these problems, since the Third World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, Brazilian researchers have strongly participated, not only by presenting posters and oral presentations, but also by being involved in the World Congress Committees. The Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (BraCVAM) must play an important role in the development and validation of alternative methods, through the active participation of the National Network of Alternative Methods (ReNaMA). In Brazil, Law 11,794/2008 regulates the use of animals in experimentation and education, and Law 9,605/1998 clearly states that use of the original animal test is not permitted, if an alternative method is available. Therefore, given the current legal framework, it is very important that all the Ministries involved with animal use, and the organisations responsible for funding researchers, strive to increase the financial support of those groups that are involved in the development and use of alternative methods in Brazil.
The time has come to plan for a future where the Three Rs will have served their purpose, animal experimentation will have been consigned to history, and humane biomedical science in research, testing and education will have become the norm, for the benefit of humans and animals alike.