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ECVAM's Activities in Validating Alternative Tests for Skin Corrosion and Irritation


Julia H. Fentem and Philip A. Botham

ECVAM has funded and managed validation studies on in vitro tests for skin corrosion, resulting in the validities of four in vitro tests being endorsed by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee: the rat skin transcutaneous electrical resistance (TER) assay, two tests based on the use of commercial reconstituted human skin equivalents, EPISKIN™ and EpiDerm™, and another commerciallyproduced test, CORROSITEX®. In the European Union (EU), a new test method on skin corrosion (B.40), incorporating the rat skin TER and human skin model assays, was included in Annex V of Directive 67/548/EEC in mid-2000, thereby making the use of in vitro alternatives for skin corrosion testing of chemicals mandatory in the EU. At the recommendation of its Skin Irritation Task Force, ECVAM has funded prevalidation studies on five in vitro tests for acute skin irritation: EpiDerm, EPISKIN, PREDISKIN™ the pig-ear test, and the mouse-skin integrity function test (SIFT). However, none of the tests met the criteria (set by the Management Team for the studies) for inclusion in a large-scale formal validation study. Thus, to date, there are no validated in vitro tests for predicting the dermal irritancy of chemicals. Following further work on the EPISKIN, EpiDerm and SIFT test protocols and/or prediction models after the completion of the prevalidation studies, it appears that the modified tests could meet the performance criteria defined for progression to a validation study. This will now be assessed independently by the ECVAM Skin Irritation Task Force, with the objective of taking a decision before the end of 2002 on whether to conduct a formal validation study.