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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Regulatory Acceptance of Alternatives in the European Union

E. Vicky Warbrick and Peter F. Evans

Recently, progress has been made toward the regulatory acceptance of replacements in the European Union (EU), particularly with the introduction of in vitro methods for the prediction of skin corrosivity, dermal penetration, phototoxicity and embryotoxicity. In vitro genotoxicity tests are well established, and testing for this endpoint can be completed without animals, provided that clear negative outcomes are obtained. Tiered approaches including in vitro tests can also be used to address skin and eye irritation endpoints. Reductions and/or refinements in animal use are being achieved following the replacement of the oral LD50 test with alternative methods and the adoption of reduced test packages for materials, such as closed-system intermediates and certain polymers. Furthermore, the use of a “read-across” approach has reduced animal testing. Substantial gains in refinement will also be made with the recent acceptance of the local lymph node assay for skin sensitisation and the development of an acute inhalation toxicity method that avoids lethality as the endpoint. For the future, under the proposed EU Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) scheme, it is envisaged that, where suitable in vitro methods exist, these should be used to support registration of substances produced at up to ten tonnes per annum. This proposal can only accelerate the further development, validation and regulatory acceptance of such alternative methods.