The JRC hosted the 5th meeting of the EU Network of Laboratories for the Validation of Alternative Methods (EU-NETVAL) where international experts shared their knowledge on advancing in vitro methods to improve safety assessment and avoid animal testing.
This two-day meeting was hosted by the JRC's European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM), in Ispra (Italy) on the 7 and 8 May 2019.
Invited experts from OECD, EFSA and ECHA were brought together with EU-NETVAL members to share their experiences and knowledge on specific in vitro methods to detect androgen and thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals that are being validated by the European network for inclusion in OECD test guidelines.
Updates were given on a joint initiative between DG Environment and JRC to promote alternative methods and support the implementation of Directive 2010/63 for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes through the development of a suite of education and training resources.
EU-NETVAL members also identified key considerations for the design and development of methods intended for regulatory use and reports were given on the significant progress being made in using in vitro methods to assess chemicals for three potential health effects:
• skin sensitisation: allergic response following skin contact with a substance
• genotoxicity: property of chemicals that can cause genetic alterations in cells, which may lead to cancer
• developmental neurotoxicity: any adverse effect induced by chemicals that affect the developing nervous system
"Such feedback from the users of these methods is important for assessing the uptake of alternatives and for addressing potential issues for other users", says JRC scientist and EU-NETVAL coordinator Sandra Coecke.
EU-NETVAL test facilities and invited experts agreed on key issues and recommendations to be considered in aiding the translation of more sophisticated methods into the regulatory domain, with particular emphasis on handling more complex test systems (e.g. 3-dimensional tissue models or human induced pluripotent stem cells), test items (e.g. chemical mixtures, biomedical devices, nanomaterials) and measurement technologies (e.g. automated imaging and 'omics). The importance of advancing and implementing Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP) was also strongly emphasised.
EU-NETVAL is a large network of 37 highly qualified test facilities across Europe, coordinated by the JRC to support the in vitro method validation process. It represents a wide range of expertise and competences and includes laboratories experienced in advanced in vitro procedures, biological test systems and measurement techniques.