Predicting Human Drug Toxicity and Safety via Animal Tests: Can Any One Species Predict Drug Toxicity in Any Other, and Do Monkeys Help?
Jarrod Bailey, Michelle Thew and Michael Balls
Animals are still widely used in drug development and safety tests, despite evidence for their lack of predictive value. In this regard, we recently showed, by producing Likelihood Ratios (LRs) for an extensive data set of over 3,000 drugs with both animal and human data, that the absence of toxicity in animals provides little or virtually no evidential weight that adverse drug reactions will also be absent in humans. While our analyses suggest that the presence of toxicity in one species may sometimes add evidential weight for risk of toxicity in another, the LRs are extremely inconsistent, varying substantially for different classes of drugs. Here, we present further data from analyses of other species pairs, including nonhuman primates (NHPs), which support our previous conclusions, and also show in particular that test results inferring an absence of toxicity in one species provide no evidential weight with regard to toxicity in any other species, even when data from NHPs and humans are compared. Our results for species including humans, NHPs, dogs, mice, rabbits, and rats, have major implications for the value of animal tests in predicting human toxicity, and demand that human-focused alternative methods are adopted in their place as a matter of urgency.
The Use of Non-Human Primates in Biological and Medical Research: Evidence Submitted by FRAME to the Academy of Medical Sciences/Medical Research Council/Royal Society/Wellcome Trust Working Group
Nirmala Bhogal, Michelle Hudson, Michael Balls and Robert D. Combes
The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust are undertaking a study into the use of non-human primates in biological and medical research. An independent working group of scientific experts, led by Sir David Weatherall, aims to produce a report summarising the findings of this study, early in 2006. The trends in primate research, and the nature and effects of recent and proposed changes in the global use of non-human primates in research, will be investigated. The associated ethical, welfare and regulatory issues, and the role and impact of the Three Rs principles of refinement, reduction and replacement will also be reviewed. As part of this study, a call for evidence was made. The evidence submitted by FRAME emphasised that the use of non-human primates for fundamental research or for regulatory testing still fails to take into account the fact that, although non-human primates are anatomically and physiologically similar to humans, they are not necessarily relevant models for studies on human disease or human physiology. FRAME continues to believe that we have a duty to ensure that these animals are not used without overwhelming evidence that they are the only suitable and elevant models for use in work of undeniable significance.
The Use of Non-Human Primates in Regulatory Toxicology: Comments Submitted by FRAME to the Home Office
Michelle Hudson, Nirmala Bhogal and Michael Balls
The Home Office have circulated a document that summarises the discussions of a Primate Stakeholders Forum. The Forum took place in January 2004, and was convened to address the issues raised and the recommendations made in the Animal Procedures Committee 2002 report on the use of primates under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The report emphasises the need for more resources focused on alternatives to toxicological testing in primates, including harmonising worldwide regulatory requirements, investigating the relevance of primate models, and improving the retrospective analysis of procedures involving primates. The document called for reasoned comments about the report to be submitted to the Home Office. In response, FRAME submitted a comprehensive paper, which evaluated each of the Animal Procedures Committee’s recommendations, along with the Home Office Forum’s comments. FRAME believes that, in coming to a decision as to whether primates should be used for regulatory testing, there must be full consideration of all the information available, including whether the ethological needs of any given species can be met prior to, during and following experimental use. Where these needs cannot be met, there must be a concerted effort to develop alternative models for research and testing. However, this should not detract from the ultimate goal of phasing out primate research altogether.