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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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.

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The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2015

Introduction by Ada Kolman & lecture text by Michael Balls

A personal, and therefore unavoidably biased, review is given, of the significance of the contributions made by selected Scandinavian individuals, organisations and events, to the development of in vitro toxicology procedures as potential replacements for toxicity tests in laboratory animals. In addition to their wider significance, these contributions had a profound effect on whatever contributions I have been able to make, myself. Nevertheless, while there has been much progress in the last 35 years or so, and many lessons have been learned, there is still much to be done, especially as animal tests remain entrenched as the preferred methods which set the gold standards and make regulators feel comfortable. Many of the clues to dealing with the questions and concerns which plague hazard prediction and risk assessment have long been available, but they have been ignored, largely for reasons which have little to do with the science of toxicology and the need to maintain the highest scientific standards. I have little doubt that Björn Ekwall, whose memory I feel privileged to honour, would have agreed with that last statement.
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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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