Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

European Union approves new alternatives to animal testing of drugs and chemicals

Posted: 27 March 2006

Animal Defenders International applauded The Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) for approving six new alternative testing methods that will reduce the need for certain drugs and chemicals to be tested on animals.

The new tests use cell cultures rather than animals to establish the toxicity of cancer drugs and identify contaminated drugs. The tests approved on March 21 2006 will not only reduce the number of animals needed for testing, but will also increase the accuracy of the tests, thereby making the products concerned safer.

The role of ECVAM, which is based at the European Commissionís Joint Research Centre, is to replace, refine and reduce (the so called 3Rs) methods of animal testing for cosmetics, drugs and chemicals.

One of the tests is designed to assist the dosage of some highly toxic drugs used in chemotherapy for cancer, a disease which causes almost a million deaths in the EU every year. Using bone marrow culture from mice and cord blood cells from humans, a test has been developed that will decrease the risk of a lethal overdose amongst the patients to which they are administered, a risk that cannot be identified during current preclinical testing strategies.

Five of the new tests address the issue of bacteria. A drug may be sterilised, but not necessarily free from all traces of bacteria which can lead to side-effects such as fever, pain and shock.

200,000 rabbits are used every year to test the drugs before they are put on the market. The new method uses human immune cells grown in the laboratory, which can detect bacteria just as the human immune system does.

These new tests are more effective in finding contaminated drugs and will reduce the number of animals used in labs and the costs of testing.

Notes to Editors

* Tests validated by ECVAM must be approved by its Scientific Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of the 25 member states, academia, industry and animal welfare organizations before they can be used in labs across Europe.

* The work of ECVAM is funded from the EUís Research Framework Programme, with support from Member States, industry and animal welfare organisations. By using advances in scientific knowledge, ECVAM will help to increase patient safety and animal welfare.

© Animal Defenders International 2019