NTP to Take Toxicity Testing in a Human-Relevant Direction

NAVS has long advocated for new approaches to toxicity testing that are human-relevant and reduce reliance on animal models—which is why we are pleased to share some exciting information shared at a recent science meeting. 

On May 23, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) held a public meeting with representatives from its member agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, to discuss current approaches that are being used to minimize or replace animal use through the incorporation of alternatives.

At this meeting, Dr. Warren Casey, director of the National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, discussed important efforts that are being made to move away from animal testing.

“We really need to get better at understanding the entire spectrum of human disease and be able to use mechanistic studies instead of animal studies” to determine when adverse effects could occur, he stated.

The NTP will first focus on innovative approaches for tests pertaining to carcinogenicity (the ability of substances to cause cancer), cardiovascular toxicity and developmental neurotoxicity.

“[C]ancer testing is really where I think we will be able to make the biggest impact on the use of animals,” Casey said.

“Cancer is over 100 different diseases,” he continued, “so we are trying to put chemicals into rodents at doses that have no human relevance and then predict one of 100 different diseases on the other side.  That works for some things, but we are really into the area now where we need to be more subtle and a little more nuanced on how we do the assessments.”

More emphasis will be placed on examining the effect of environmental factors on different cancers in humans by using existing data on populations that are already affected by the disease to better understand potential environmental causes. This information will add to our base of knowledge and can ultimately be used to make predictions about new chemicals.

“The future is going to be human-relevant, mechanistic, exposure driven.  We don’t know exactly how we are going to do it yet.  We have just started,” and will use the ICCVAM roadmap as a guide, Casey said.

We look forward to hearing more about the progress being made with this initiative and will be sure to share updates in this area with you.

You can help raise visibility for NAVS’ work on behalf of animals by posting a review of your experience with us on GreatNonprofits.org. Your positive review will help NAVS earn recognition as a 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit. Thank you!


Davies. E. “US NTP to focus on human biology for risk assessment,” May 30, 2019.

This entry was posted in News and tagged on June 6, 2019.
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