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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Opportunities for Reduction in Acute Toxicity Testing via Improved Design

Anne Whitehead and Nigel Stallard

The conventional method for assessing acute oral toxicity (OECD Test Guideline 401) was designed to identify the median lethal dose (LD50), using the death of animals as an endpoint. Introduced as an alternative method (OECD Test Guideline 420), the Fixed Dose Procedure (FDP) relies on the observation of clear signs of toxicity, uses fewer animals and causes less suffering. More recently, the Acute Toxic Class method and the Up-and-Down Procedure have also been adopted as OECD test guidelines. Both of these methods also use fewer animals than the conventional method, although they still use death as an endpoint. Each of the three new methods incorporates a sequential dosing procedure, which results in increased efficiency. In 1999, with a view to replacing OECD Test Guideline 401, the OECD requested that the three new test guidelines be updated. This was to bring them in line with the regulatory needs of all OECD Member Countries, provide further reductions in the number of animals used, and introduce refinements to reduce the pain and distress experienced by the animals. This paper describes a statistical modelling approach for the evaluation of acute oral toxicity tests, by using the revised FDP for illustration. Opportunities for further design improvements are discussed.