We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
From the 27-29 November 2017, the annual meeting of EURL ECVAM's regulatory network (PARERE) and the joint meeting of PARERE and the ECVAM stakeholder forum (ESTAF) took place in Ispra. These meetings bring together stakeholder organisations representing academia, industry and civil society (including animal welfare NGOs) and regulators from a variety of sectors to reflect on how to progress alternative approaches to animal testing.
The trans-sectorial PARERE network provides advice to EURL ECVAM on the regulatory relevance and suitability of alternative methods proposed for validation, whilst both PARERE and ESTAF networks contribute to the formulation of EURL ECVAM strategies and recommendations and the promotion of alternative approaches in various domains where animals are used for scientific purposes.
In addition to receiving updates and highlights from EURL ECVAM, as detailed in the recently launched 2017 EURL ECVAM Status Report, PARERE members gave feedback on the work undertaken in Member States to engage relevant experts to respond to requests for advice.
During a dedicated session on toxicokinetics, European regulatory agencies (i.e. EMA, EFSA and ECHA) provided their perspectives on integrating toxicokinetic data in current regulatory assessment contexts, while EURL ECVAM presented its range of activities in the area including related OECD projects.
This year, the PARERE meeting also brought experts from the EU-ToxRisk consortium to present and discuss safety assessment case studies using non-animal approaches on which PARERE had been consulted prior to the meeting. EU-ToxRisk is a European research project funded under Horizon 2020 which is driving mechanism-based toxicity testing and risk assessment for the 21st century.
The ultimate goal of the programme is to deliver testing strategies to enable reliable, animal-free hazard and risk assessment of chemicals.
During 2016, the JRC conducted a study to review the availability of 3Rs related knowledge and how it is currently shared between sources and end-users.The key findings of the study were presented at the European Commission's conference on "Non-animal Approaches – the way forward" (Dec 2016).
It was found that although much knowledge exists on the Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement of animal testing (3Rs), its sharing can be improved through better coordination, communication and outreach, and by more emphasis on targeted education and training initiatives. To build on the results of this study, EURL ECVAM held a workshop during the joint meeting to explore with the participants the status of 3Rs relevant knowledge sources and sharing practices in three specific areas; research, education and training, and regulatory testing.
Effective knowledge sharing is fundamental to achieving 3Rs impact in every field where animals are used for scientific purposes and so consultation with these expert groups to identify areas of success and to propose solutions for better knowledge sharing was highly valuable.