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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

June 2018

NTP promotes international use of nonanimal test methods

The National Toxicology Program joined an international meeting to advance international acceptance of nonanimal chemical test methods.

Nicole Kleinstreuer Kleinstreuer collaborates with U.S., Canadian, and European colleagues to advance nonanimal approaches for skin sensitization testing. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

National Toxicology Program (NTP) participated in an international meeting in Paris April 24-27 to contribute to advancing international acceptance of nonanimal chemical safety testing methods.

Nicole Kleinstreuer, Ph.D., participated in the annual meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Test Guidelines Programme. Methods accepted will be used in all 35 OECD member countries. Acceptance by OECD is a major avenue through which alternatives to animal testing are advanced internationally.

“From our point of view, the OECD is kind of like the United Nations for chemical testing,” explained Kleinstreuer, deputy director of the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM). “Data generated in one country using these methods are accepted in all member countries, which avoids a lot of redundant testing for regulatory authorities.”

Increased role for United States

Kleinstreuer represented the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) at the meeting. ICCVAM member Wanda Hall of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has served as the U.S. national coordinator to the Test Guidelines Programme since 2015.

This was the first year that an ICCVAM member who is directly involved in test method development or use accompanied Hall and provided support on scientific issues. “There were a number of accomplishments at this year’s meeting [in which] the increased U.S. participation was instrumental,” noted Kleinstreuer.

One of these was for skin sensitization testing, an area of particular interest to Kleinstreuer. Participants addressed several key issues required for acceptance of a test guideline that combines data from several nonanimal methods to provide hazard classifications.

Easier adoption of nonanimal test methods

Another proposal accepted at the April meeting will make it easier for so-called me-too methods, which are similar to methods described in existing test guidelines, to gain OECD adoption. Including such methods as annexes to the existing test guidelines will allow more rapid adoption when they provide similar information, even if they use different technology.

Among the other proposals discussed were advances in the use of human serum instead of fetal calf serum to provide completely animal-free test systems. Another proposal defined procedures to promote cooperation among different OECD groups working on similar projects.

The group approved guidance documents of broad scientific interest, including new guidance on in vitro methods and updates on evaluating chemicals for endocrine disruption.

Many of the documents discussed at the April meeting are available on the OECD website. Actions taken by the group are in the process of final approval and are expected in July.

(Catherine Sprankle is a communications specialist for ILS, the contractor supporting NICEATM.)

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