A Multi-faceted Approach to Achieving the Global Acceptance of Animal-free Research Methods

Jodie Melbourne, Patricia Bishop, Jeffrey Brown and Gilly Stoddart

In 2015, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. was awarded the Lush Training Prize for its broad approach to education and training on the effective use of human-relevant, non-animal research techniques. The prize was awarded for work that included hosting workshops and webinars, initiating in-person training sessions and developing educational resources. The Consortium works closely with industry and regulatory agencies to identify and overcome barriers to the validation and use of alternatives to animal testing, by using an approach that identifies, promotes and verifies the implementation of these methods. The Consortium's recent activities toward replacing tests on animals for nanomaterials, pesticides and medical devices, are described, as examples of projects with broad applicability aimed at large-scale regulatory change.
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International Cooperation: An Essential Requirement for Replacing Animal Toxicity

Horst Spielmann

The Three Rs concept, which was developed by Russell & Burch in 1959, was implemented into the legal framework in the European Union (EU) for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, when Directive 86/609/EEC was adopted in 1986. One focus of activity under this Directive is the use of animals and alternative methods in regulatory testing. To reduce or replace animal testing for regulatory purposes, non-animal tests must be independently validated to prove that they can provide information that is relevant and reliable for hazard prediction in relation to specific types of toxicity in vivo. At the end of the 1980s, no scientific concept existed for the formal validation of in vitro toxicity tests, so a small group of European and American scientists met to develop a set of principles for experimental validation, which were first adopted by ECVAM in Europe in 1995, and, after harmonisation with experts from the USA and Japan, accepted internationally by the OECD in 1996. ECVAM has directly funded a number of validation studies, and a major breakthrough in the year 2000 was the acceptance for regulatory purposes in the EU of cientifically validated in vitro toxicity tests for phototoxic potential and for skin corrosivity. These, and other examples which are discussed, confirm that the internationally harmonised ECVAM/ICCVAM/OECD validation concept is a practical and effective way of making possible the replacement of regulatory testing in animals.
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Comments on the Sub-group Reports of the EU Technical Expert Working Group on the Revision of Directive 86/609/EEC on the Protection of Animals Used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes

Robert Combes and Michael Balls

A critical analysis is presented of the reports produced by four Technical Expert Working Group Sub-groups (SGs) on Ethical Review, Cost–Benefit, Authorisation and Scope, which were published on the EC website (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/ia_info_en.htm), as part of the European Commission (EC)’s review of EU Directive 86/609 EEC. This is in addition to our official response to the internet consultation questionnaire, submitted to the Commission on behalf of FRAME. Whilst the respective SG reports were extensive and detailed, we have identified several shortcomings, and in particular, a frequent lack of consensus among the SG members, resulting in a lack of clear guidance for the EC on what the revised Directive should contain, with reference to a number of crucial issues. Such indecisiveness could lead to wide discrepancies in the approaches of the EC, the European Parliament and the EU Member States concerning many issues of importance to animal welfare and the implementation of alternatives to animal experiments. These concerns range from logistical issues, such as requirements for named officers in authorised establishments, and the recording and publishing of statistics on animal use, to ethical and scientific problems, including the use of non-human primates, local ethical review, and education and training on the essential link between the Three Rs concept and best scientific practice. In each case, the basis for our concerns is explained, and suggestions for improvements to be incorporated into the revised Directive are made, in the hope that the harmonisation of approaches to laboratory animal experimentation and the use of alternative methods in the Member States can be maximised.
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Comment – A Critical Review of Anaesthetised Animal Models and Alternatives for Military Research, Testing and Training, with a Focus on Blast Damage, Haemorrhage and Resuscitation

Robert D. Combes

Military research, testing, and surgical and resuscitation training, are aimed at mitigating the consequences of warfare and terrorism to armed forces and civilians. Traumatisation and tissue damage due to explosions, and acute loss of blood due to haemorrhage, remain crucial, potentially preventable, causes of battlefield casualties and mortalities. There is also the additional threat from inhalation of chemical and aerosolised biological weapons. The use of anaesthetised animal models, and their respective replacement alternatives, for military purposes — particularly for blast injury, haemorrhaging and resuscitation training — is critically reviewed. Scientific problems with the animal models include the use of crude, uncontrolled and non-standardised methods for traumatisation, an inability to model all key trauma mechanisms, and complex modulating effects of general anaesthesia on target organ physiology. Such effects depend on the anaesthetic and influence the cardiovascular system, respiration, breathing, cerebral haemodynamics, neuroprotection, and the integrity of the blood–brain barrier. Some anaesthetics also bind to the NMDA brain receptor with possible differential consequences in control and anaesthetised animals. There is also some evidence for gender-specific effects. Despite the fact that these issues are widely known, there is little published information on their potential, at best, to complicate data interpretation and, at worst, to invalidate animal models. There is also a paucity of detail on the anaesthesiology used in studies, and this can hinder correct data evaluation. Welfare issues relate mainly to the possibility of acute pain as a side-effect of traumatisation in recovered animals. Moreover, there is the increased potential for animals to suffer when anaesthesia is temporary, and the procedures invasive. These dilemmas can be addressed, however, as a diverse range of replacement approaches exist, including computer and mathematical dynamic modelling of the human body, cadavers, interactive human patient simulators for training, in vitro techniques involving organotypic cultures of target organs, and epidemiological and clinical studies. While the first four of these have long proven useful for developing protective measures and predicting the consequences of trauma, and although many phenomena and their sequelae arising from different forms of trauma in vivo can be induced and reproduced in vitro, non-animal approaches require further development, and their validation and use need to be coordinated and harmonised. Recommendations to these ends are proposed, and the scientific and welfare problems associated with animal models are addressed, with the future focus being on the use of batteries of complementary replacement methods deployed in integrated strategies, and on greater transparency and scientific cooperation.

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