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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The ECVAM Workshops: A Critical Assessment of their Impact on the Development, Validation and Acceptance of Alternative Methods

Robert D. Combes

ECVAM initiated its workshop programme in 1994, to enable it to become well informed about the state of the art of non-animal test development and validation, and about the possible incorporation of alternatives into regulatory requirements for safety testing. Fifty-one such workshops had been held on specific topics, up to 2002. In these workshops, the current status of in vitro tests and their potential uses were reviewed and recommendations were made as to the best ways forward to progress and enhance the use of in vitro methods. Reports for 46 of these workshops have been published in ATLA. Most of the workshops focused on in vitro replacement methods, although an increasing number have dealt with reduction and refinement. The recommendations in the ECVAM workshops have been progressed further by: a) the formation of ECVAM task forces; b) the organisation of further workshops; c) the activities of scientific committees; d) the provision of earmarked research funding; and e) the conduct of validation studies. Examples of each of these activities are discussed. Some individual workshops are covered in more detail, and several recommendations that have so far not been acted on are also considered. The workshops and their reports have had a substantial effect on the development and implementation of alternative methods, and have been a major factor in contributing to the success of the first nine years of ECVAM's existence. It is strongly recommended that ECVAM continues to organise workshops and to publish their findings, and suggestions are made for topics for future workshops.