in vivo

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Barriers to the Uptake of Human-based Test Methods, and How to Overcome Them

Kathy Archibald, Tamara Drake and Robert Coleman

Although there is growing concern as to the questionable value of animal-based methods for determining the safety and efficacy of new medicines, which has in turn led to many groups developing innovative human-based methods, there are many barriers to their adoption for regulatory submissions.
The reasons for this are various, and include a lack of confidence that the available human-based methods, be they in vivo, in silico or in vitro, can be sufficiently predictive of clinical outcomes. However, this is not the only problem: the issue of validation presents a serious impediment to progress, a particularly frustrating situation, in view of the fact that the existing animal-based methods have never themselves been formally validated. Superimposed upon this is the issue of regulatory requirements, where, although regulators may be willing to accept non-animal approaches in place of particular animal tests, nowhere is this explicitly stated in their guidelines. Such problems are far from trivial, and represent major hurdles to be overcome. In addition, there are a range of other barriers, real or self-imposed, that are hindering a more-predictive approach to establishing a new drug’s clinical safety and efficacy profiles. Some of these barriers are identified, and ways forward are suggested.
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Human-based Systems in Drug and Chemical Safety Testing — Toward Replacement, the ‘Single R’

Robert A. Coleman

The Three Rs was a concept originally conceived as a means of reducing the suffering of laboratory animals that are used largely in identifying any potential safety issues with chemicals to which humans may be exposed. However, with growing evidence of the shortcomings of laboratory animal testing to reliably predict human responsiveness to such chemicals, questions are now being asked as to whether it is appropriate to use animals as human surrogates at all. This raises the question of whether, of the original Three Rs, two — Reduction and Refinement — are potentially redundant, and whether, instead, we should concentrate on the third R: Replacement. And if this is the best way forward, it is inevitable that this R should be based firmly on human biology. The present review outlines the current state-of-the-art regarding our access to human biology through in vitro, in silico and in vivo technologies, identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and goes on to address the prospect of achieving a single R, with some suggestions as to how to progress toward this goal.
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In Vitro Tests in Pharmacotoxicology: Can We Fill the Gap Between Scientific Advances and Industrial Needs?

Ravi Shrivastava

The use of in vitro alternatives in pharmacotoxicological research has been a subject of continuous discussion among scientists, regulatory authorities and animal protection groups. Despite the fact that the validity and reliability of different in vitro models for replacing whole-animal experimentation have been scientifically proved, the routine use of in vitro tests remains limited. In the current industrial economic climate, I believe that, despite the simplicity and the predictive powers of the proposed in vitro models, the unfavourable cost:benefit ratio of some of these tests will remain an important barrier to the universal acceptance of in vitro alternatives.
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Toxicity Testing of Polymer Materials for Dialysis Equipment: Reconsidering In Vivo Testing

Per Kjellstrand, Eva Lindqvist and Carin Nilsson-Thorell

The rationale for preclinical testing of plastic materials for medical devices is the protection of patients from leachable toxic substances. A controversial and costly part of this testing is the use of animal in vivo procedures. The objective of the present study was to analyse the importance of in vivo tests in relation to the decision to approve or not to approve materials for use. A total of 1044 plastic materials were analysed by employing chemical, in vitro and in vivo tests: 5708 in vivo tests were performed. In only one out of 2650 systemic injection tests on mice did a material fail. As that material also failed in chemical tests, the systemic injection test had no influence on the decision not to approve the material. Intradermal irritation (2644 tests), implantation (398 tests) and sensitivity (11 tests) procedures on rabbits and guinea-pigs were the other in vivo tests. However, in all except three cases, the same decision on whether or not to use a material would have been reached without any of these in vivo tests. Thus, little security appears to be gained from the in vivo tests, and abandoning them would save resources, probably without any additional risk.
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The Implications of Microarray Technology for Animal Use in Scientific Research

Elizabeth S. Jenkins, Caren Broadhead and Robert D. Combes

Microarray technology has the potential to affect the number of laboratory animals used, the severity of animal experiments, and the development of non-animal alternatives in several areas of scientific research. Microarrays can contain hundreds or thousands of microscopic spots of DNA, immobilised on a solid support, and their use enables global patterns of gene expression to be determined in a single experiment. This technology is being used to improve our understanding of the operation of biological systems during health and disease, and their responses to chemical insults. Although it is impossible to predict with certainty any future trends regarding animal use, microarray technology might not initially reduce animal use, as is often claimed to be the case. The accelerated pace of research as a result of the use of microarrays could increase overall animal use in basic and applied biological research, by increasing the numbers of interesting genes identified for further analysis, and the number of potential targets for drug development. Each new lead will require further evaluation in studies that could involve animals. In toxicity testing, microarray studies could lead to increases in animal studies, if further confirmatory and other studies are performed. However, before such technology can be used more extensively, several technical problems need to be overcome, and the relevance of the data to biological processes needs to be assessed. Were microarray technology to be used in the manner envisaged by its protagonists, there need to be efforts to increase the likelihood that its application will create new opportunities for reducing, refining and replacing animal use. This comment is a critical assessment of the possible implications of the application of microarray technology on animal experimentation in various research areas, and makes some recommendations for maximising the application of the Three Rs.
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Evaluation and Prevalidation of an Immunotoxicity Test Based on Human Whole-blood Cytokine Release

Ingrid Langezaal, Sebastian Hoffmann, Thomas Hartung, & Sandra Coecke

Immunotoxicology is a relatively new field in toxicology, and is one of emerging importance, because immunotoxicity appears to contribute to the development of cancer, autoimmune disorders, allergies and other diseases. At present, there is a lack of human cell-based immunotoxicity assays for predicting the toxicity of xenobiotics toward the immune system in a simple, fast, economical and reliable way. Existing immunotoxicity tests are mainly performed in animals, although species differences favour humanbased testing. Whole-blood cytokine release models have attracted increasing interest, and are broadly used for pharmacological in vitro and ex vivo studies, as well as for pyrogenicity testing. We have adapted those methods for immunotoxicity testing, to permit the potency testing of immunostimulants and immunosuppressants. Following stimulation with a lipopolysaccharide or staphylococcal enterotoxin B, monocytes and lymphocytes release interleukin-1β and interleukin-4, respectively. Thirty-one pharmaceutical compounds, with known effects on the immune system, were used to optimise and standardise the method, by analysing their effects on cytokine release. The in vitro results were expressed as IC50 values for immunosuppression, and SC4 (fourfold increase) values for immunostimulation, and compared with therapeutic serum concentrations of the compounds in patients, and in vivo LD50 values from animal studies. The in vitro results correlated well with the in vivo data, so the test appears to reflect immunomodulation. Results were reproducible (CV = 20 ± 5%), and the method could be transferred to another laboratory (r2 = 0.99). We therefore propose this method for further validation and for use in immunotoxicity testing strategies.
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A Modular Approach to the ECVAM Principles on Test Validity

Thomas Hartung, Susanne Bremer, Silvia Casati, Sandra Coecke, Raffaella Corvi, Salvador Fortaner, Laura Gribaldo, Marlies Halder, Sebastian Hoffmann, Annett Janusch Roi, Pilar Prieto, Enrico Sabbioni, Laurie Scott, Andrew Worth and Valérie Zuang

The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) proposes to make the validation process more flexible, while maintaining its high standards. The various aspects of validation are broken down into independent modules, and the information necessary to complete each module is defined. The data required to assess test validity in an independent peer review, not the process, are thus emphasised. Once the information to satisfy all the modules is complete, the test can enter the peer-review process. In this way, the between-laboratory variability and predictive capacity of a test can be assessed independently. Thinking in terms of validity principles will broaden the applicability of the validation process to a variety of tests and procedures, including the generation of new tests, new technologies (for example, genomics, proteomics), computer-based models (for example, quantitative structure–activity relationship models), and expert systems. This proposal also aims to take into account existing information, defining this as retrospective validation, in contrast to a prospective validation study, which has been the predominant approach to date. This will permit the assessment of test validity by completing the missing information via the relevant validation procedure: prospective validation, retrospective validation, catch-up validation, or a combination of these procedures.
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