NAVS has long advocated for new approaches to scientific experimentation that are human relevant and reduce reliance on animal models. That’s why we are pleased to share some exciting information from a recent meeting featuring representatives from several U.S. government agencies discussing their progress on helping reduce—and even replace—the use of animals in many areas of science.
On May 21, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) held a public virtual meeting with representatives from its member agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to discuss current approaches that minimize or replace animal use through the incorporation of alternatives.
At this meeting, Dr. Warren Casey, administrative director of ICCVAM, discussed important efforts that are being made by the agencies to better assess the progress they have individually or collectively made toward the “3Rs” —reduction, refinement and replacement of animals— in testing.
Dr. Warren began by noting that “progress” could not be accurately assessed by simply counting the animals used in research. Instead, he said that a Metrics Working Group has been established to develop metrics that agencies can use to better assess progress toward the 3Rs, and that a white paper describing agency-specific contexts for reporting animal testing data would be published. Dr. Warren emphasized how helpful it would be to have this information from all of the agencies in one place.
Other agencies had an opportunity to share their thoughts and news about progress being made toward the 3Rs:
- A representative from the FDA discussed the importance of regulators being included at the earliest stages of the development of alternatives to help identify gaps and also discussed the FDA’s interest in organs-on-chips (such as the lung-on-a-chip, pictured above).
- An EPA representative reiterated the agency’s goals to reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammalian studies by 30% by 2025, and to eliminate all mammalian study requests and funding by 2035.
- A representative from the Animal Welfare Information Center discussed progress that is being made on their 3Rs indexing project. This initiative is aimed at helping researchers more easily identify and locate publications describing alternatives.
NAVS was encouraged by much of what we learned in this gathering of experts. We look forward to hearing more about the humane progress being made by each of the agencies and will be sure to share these updates with you.
Image credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University