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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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ECVAM-ICCVAM: Prospects for Future Collaboration

Leonard M. Schechtman and William S. Stokes

The level and complexity of testing for hazard and risk assessment of marketed products and environmental agents has increased substantially over time, resulting in the use of greater numbers of both animals and humans for testing. Today, industry and regulatory bodies worldwide face increasing pressures to demonstrate responsible utilisation of laboratory animals, to limit their use, and to employ alternative non-animal tests. Institutions have also been established to identify, encourage the development of, conduct research on, and validate new, improved, and surrogate test methods that will reduce and replace animal use. Two such organisations are ECVAM and the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). As the evolutionary changes occurring in the field of toxicology result in an unprecedented increase in the introduction of alternative methodologies, these will strain the capacities of such alternative-methods institutions. That realisation is causing a shift in thinking and is creating an impetus to seek approaches by which to collaborate and develop more-efficient operational procedures for the validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods. Similarities in objectives, functions, scientific standards, and commitment to the principles of validation and animal welfare support the value of a cooperative arrangement between ECVAM and ICCVAM, to minimise duplication of effort, maximise productivity, and influence the international adoption of alternative tests. Opportunities for ECVAM-ICCVAM collaboration are discussed, which illustrate the feasibility and potential benefits of such a partnership.