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Initiative to Modernize Regulatory Toxicity Testing Gains Traction (January 2017)

Federal agencies and scientific advisory boards are endorsing alternative toxicity testing methods that have the ability to limit or phase out animal testing. These alternative testing methods, which include new technologies such as organs-on-a-chip and cellular-based testing, are predicted to replace traditional animal testing methods within the next ten years. In order to turn this initiative into a reality, the current model for toxicity testing would need to be fundamentally transformed. This may prove challenging as science is not the only factor limiting operation in this movement. Legal and institutional barriers will also need to be overcome in order to create an environment in which the new testing systems can be successful.

Progress Being Made

Progress is currently being made in the scientific realm, as working groups are undertaking new avenues to advance their efforts in understanding alternative testing strategies. One example is the replacement of six-pack studies, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) requires for new active pesticide ingredients. Six-pack studies test for:

  • Acute oral toxicity
  • Acute dermal toxicity
  • Acute eye irritation
  • Acute dermal irritation
  • Skin sensitization
  • Acute inhalation toxicity

Some new alternative methods have been shown to provide more accurate predictions in skin sensitization compared to current animal testing assessments. The future impact of these alternative testing strategies has the potential to revolutionize the toxicity testing landscape, generating new methods that will more accurately reflect the functions of the human body. New testing strategies would likely be faster, more accurate, and cheaper.

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