Advisory committee gives thumbs up to progress on alternative methods
By Ernie Hood
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the substantial reinvention launched last year by the groups it advises. The advisory committee met Sept. 16 at NIEHS to review work of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Methods (see sidebar).
“It’s been just over a year since ICCVAM released its new vision and strategic direction, which outlined a new plan and a new direction for the 15-member U.S. committee,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS and NTP director. “You’re going to hear about some of the significant progress that has been made by the committee on a variety of fronts since the plan was adopted.”
Perhaps most importantly, the coordinating committee has adopted an approach to validation of alternative test methods known as a fit-for-purpose approach. The method focuses on the needs of individual agencies and industries that are best positioned to quickly adopt a specific alternative test method.
Warren Casey, Ph.D., director of the interagency center, explained that the coordinating committee has evolved into more of a service organization. “Fit-for-purpose validation is really getting the right product to the right person at the right time, or getting the agencies what they need when they need it — high-quality results in a very short amount of time,” he said.
Words have become deeds
Last year’s good intentions formed the basis of this year’s tangible accomplishments, making for action-oriented updates from the coordinating committee, the federal agencies that comprise the coordinating committee, the interagency center, and international alternative methods agencies, such as those in the European Union, Japan, Canada, and Korea. Several speakers noted that collaborations among agencies and other stakeholders have increased dramatically and substantial progress has been made toward acceptance of alternative methods.
As a key element of new vision and direction, the coordinating committee and interagency center increased engagement with the scientific community and stakeholders through focused workshops (see related story), webinars, and forums. Website upgrades have helped improve communication with stakeholders.
“We are very pleased with ICCVAM’s new direction and its much stronger focus on achieving real reductions in animal use,” said Patricia Bishop, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals representative, echoing the positive sentiments expressed by many of the advisory committee members.
(Ernie Hood is a contract writer with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison)
World Congress strengthens international ties
By Catherine Sprankle
NICEATM and ICCVAM strengthened international ties Aug. 24-28 at the Ninth World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Prague.
• NICEATM staff helped organize a satellite meeting, “Workshop on Alternatives to the HIST for Acellular Pertussis Vaccines: Progress and Challenges in the Replacement of HIST.”
• Casey co-chaired the Activity Updates From International Validation Centers session and summarized NICEATM and ICCVAM activities.
• NICEATM contractor Nicole Kleinstreuer, Ph.D., gave two presentations — one on an adverse outcome pathway for vascular development toxicity, and another on using high-throughput screening methods to identify endocrine disruptors.
• Raymond Tice, Ph.D., of NTP, co-chaired two sessions — Updates on Research Activities from the USA, and High-throughput Screening Models. He also presented updates on Tox21 activities.
• Abigail Jacobs, Ph.D., ICCVAM co-chair, with FDA, co-chaired the Topical Toxicity-Phototox session. She also gave a presentation on internationally harmonized nonanimal approaches to photosafety testing.
• Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., with FDA, co-chaired and gave a presentation at the Tissues and Organs-on-a-Chip session. She also presented the regulatory perspective on adverse outcome pathways, and a process for international cooperation on regulatory science.
• Richard McFarland, Ph.D., with FDA, discussed reducing, refining, and replacing animal use in preclinical testing of cellular and gene therapies.
• Staff from NICEATM and the NTP Biomolecular Screening Branch prepared and presented eleven scientific posters.