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.
Highlights of the JRC work presented include using Adverse Outcome Pathways to guide in vitro method development, the recently published OECD guidance on good in vitro method practices, results of an international survey on validating complex in vitro models, and an update of the JRC validation study of in vitro methods for identifying thyroid disrupters.
The 20th International Congress on In Vitro Toxicology (ESTIV 2018) was held from 15 to 18 October 2018 in Berlin and brought together over 450 participants from 45 countries. The JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) was present with an exhibition stand in addition to making a number of podium and poster presentations which are freely available. This edition of the ESTIV conference focused on new approach methodologies for in vitro toxicology applications.
The JRC used the occasion to release the first results of a major international survey launched in May 2018 on complex in vitro models, which include 3D cell cultures, bioprinted tissues, and microphysiological (organ-on-chip) systems. The survey provided valuable insights into what developers and end-users are thinking regarding the validation of such models to ensure their successful translation into useful application.
The utility of the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework for in vitro toxicology was discussed during a pre-conference workshop jointly organised by the JRC and the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV). Flash presentations and Q&A sessions provided a dynamic environment to explore key aspects of the framework including why development of AOPs is important to support new approaches to chemical safety assessment and how people can get involved in the AOP programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In a second pre-conference workshop, JRC scientists showcased the OECD Guidance Document on Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP), developed within an international project led by the JRC. The document provides detailed guidance to method developers and end-users on good scientific, technical and quality practices that are essential to ensure the reliability and integrity of in vitro data used for the safety assessment of chemicals.
On the last day of the conference, the JRC provided an update on EURL ECVAM's validation study to assess a set of 17 in vitro methods for the identification of chemicals that have the potential to disrupt thyroid function in humans. Significant progress has been made on formalising agreements with method developers and the participating test facilities selected from the EU Network of Laboratories for the Validation of Alternative Methods (EU-NETVAL). Much effort has also been invested to assure the quality and availability of the many test systems (cells and tissues) being employed, in line with GIVIMP principles.
At the JRC exhibition stand, conference participants also had the chance to play the JRC Science Quiz and test their knowledge on alternative methods and new approaches in safety assessment. This proved to be an effective and fun way to learn more about the role and the activities of the JRC in support of EU policies.