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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.
The annual conference of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) took place on 20 November 2018 in Brussels. The event showcased recent EPAA achievements and included an expert panel session, with the participation of the JRC, that discussed how new types of safety data derived from alternative methods can be exploited in regulatory decision making.
The EPAA conference was opened by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska who underlined the commitment of the European Commission to work towards the phasing out of animal testing and the important cross-sector role that the EPAA has in facilitating knowledge sharing and encouraging cooperation. MEP Julie Girling emphasised the importance of more extensive exchange of chemical safety data between regulatory agencies to avoid unnecessary animal testing and announced a pilot project funded by the European Parliament to support cooperation on this topic between the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
During the panel discussion, the JRC emphasised the importance of proper reporting of data generated with alternative methods to make them readily accessible and understandable by safety assessors. The OECD guidance document for describing non-guideline test methods as well as the OECD harmonised template for reporting data on intermediate effects, developed under the lead of JRC scientists, were considered very valuable in this regard. The recently published guidance on Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP) which was produced in the context of an OECD project led by the JRC was also highlighted as a key resource for alternative method developers and end-users to ensure the reliability of data used for safety assessment.
The EPAA awarded its 3Rs Science Prize to Dr Antje Appelt-Menzel from the University Hospital in Würzburg, Germany, for her research on the Need of robust and standardized test systems - Stem cell derived human in vitro models to determine blood-brain barrier penetration and neurotoxicity. Details can be found in a related publication.
The EPAA is a voluntary collaboration between the European Commission, including the JRC and its EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM), European trade associations, and companies from 7 industry sectors. The partnership works to accelerate the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods with the overall aim to replace, reduce and refine (3Rs) the use of animals in regulatory testing.