EU Science Hub

Nanosafety assessment with reduced animal testing

Mar 22 2017

JRC scientists contributed to a proposal  by a European expert group to reduce the number of animal testing for the safety assessment of nanomaterials.

Due to the wide spread of engineered nanomaterials, it is important to understand their effects on human health. However, it is not feasible to assess the safety of all nanomaterials using the usual animal-based toxicity tests. In addition there are scientific, business, ethical and legislative drivers to consider and re-evaluate the use of animal toxicity tests for nanomaterials.  
Therefore, an expert Working Group of European regulatory, academic and industry scientists – including the JRC -  has proposed a 3Rs (replacement, refinement and reduction of animals)-based framework for nanosafety assessment. This framework aims to support and guide the paradigm shift towards a 21st century approach by utilising non-traditional methods, improving the human relevance of nanosafety assessment and reducing the number of test animals used.

The expert group lead by UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) discussed a short, medium and long term perspective on how to align the 3Rs principles with an improved and modern approach for nanosafety assessment which shifts the focus of safety assessment towards a balanced exposure-driven approach, away from the hazard-based approaches currently in use.

Read more in: N. Burden et al.: "The 3Rs as a framework to support a 21st century approach for nanosafety assessment",  Nano Today 12 (2017) 10–13, doi: 10.1016/j.nantod.2016.06.007