in vitro test

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Assessment of the Eye Irritating Properties of Chemicals by Applying Alternatives to the Draize Rabbit Eye Test: The Use of QSARs and In Vitro Tests for the Classification of Eye Irritation

Ingrid Gerner, Manfred Liebsch and Horst Spielmann

Huggins has reported on the current situation relating to the development of alternatives to the Draize eye irritation test with rabbits, and an ECVAM Working Group have reviewed the efforts needed in order to replace this animal test within the next 10 years by using the results of non-animal assessment methods. Our report reviews regulatory experience gained over the last 20 years with the EU chemicals notification procedure with respect to the assessment of eye lesions observed in Draize tests. The nature of eye lesions and their importance for classification and labelling of possible hazards to human eyes are evaluated and discussed, with a view to promoting the development of specific in vitro assays which are able to discriminate between eye damage, moderate eye irritation, and minor irritation effects which are completely reversible within a few days. Structural alerts for the prediction of eye irritation/corrosion hazards to be classified and labelled according to international classification criteria, are presented, which should be validated in accordance with internationally agreed (OECD) principles for (Q)SAR system validation. Physicochemical limit values for prediction of the absence of any eye irritation potential relevant for human health can make available a definition of the applicability domains of alternative methods developed for the replacement of the Draize eye irritation test.
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Effects of the Introduction of In Vitro Assays on the Use of Experimental Animals in Pharmacological Research

Pieter M. Verbost, Jan van der Valk and Coenraad F.M. Hendriksen

The introduction of in vitro assays in pharmacological research has led to a reduction in the number of experimental animals used. But what has been the degree of this reduction, and when did it really start? This report describes the events in a medium-sized pharmaceutical company. Analysis of data collected over the last 12 years shows a five-fold reduction in the number of experimental animals used per compound synthesised. Compounds from compound libraries (large collections of randomly- synthesised molecules) that are being assessed for potential bioactivity in ‘high-throughput screening’ were not included in this analysis. Over the years, the (average) degree of discomfort for the animals in the experiments did not vary much; with variation generally observed from 1.5 to 2.0 (on a scale from 1–6). There was a peak in the discomfort score of experimental mice in 1997, which could be explained by the initiation of arthritis models that were subsequently refined, resulting in a lower degree of suffering. It might be concluded that the introduction of in vitro assays has indeed brought about a significant reduction in the number of experimental animals required to select a good compound (i.e. one that could progress to the preclinical toxicology phase). However, this development appears to have been neutralised by the low survival rate of new chemical entities in clinical studies, leading to a lower number of compounds per annum that actually reach the market place. Put in this ‘productivity perspective’, the number of experimental animals required to select a marketable drug has not much changed in the last decade.
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