The JRC’s status report of the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM), published today, describes JRC’s contributions to several of the actions set out in the Commission’s response to the Parliament in February 2022. The status report is published annually and summarises activities in which JRC is involved, in support of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.
New approaches to testing chemicals
The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is a key part of the EU’s Green Deal. One of its ambitious objectives is to increase the amount of information available on potentially hazardous chemicals while at the same time making the best use of innovative non-animal methods. These include techniques using human cells, computer modelling and organ-on-chip devices. EURL ECVAM plays a pivotal role in identifying promising methods and supporting their validation and acceptance for regulatory applications.
EURL ECVAM is also leading the Information Platform for Chemical Monitoring, the European Commission’s reference access point for searching, analysing and retrieving chemical occurrence data collected and managed in Europe, to contribute to the Strategy’s commitment for better access to data.
Non-animal approaches in biomedical research
EURL ECVAM has released new reviews of advanced non-animal models being used extensively for basic and applied research on neurodegenerative diseases and immune-oncology. Many of these models are engineered from human cells and tissues that more accurately represent human biology and disease pathways. The reviews have added details of 100s of innovative models to ECVAM’s extensive knowledge base on models and methods used in biomedical research which is freely available from the JRC’s Data Catalogue.
An international breakthrough for alternative methods
An OECD test guideline represents one of the highest levels of standardization and regulatory acceptance of new test methods since they facilitate the mutual acceptance of testing data across OECD member countries. This results in significant savings both in terms of animals used for testing and the associated costs. Stemming from a project co-led by ECVAM, the first OECD guideline for a ‘defined approach’ has been approved, integrating in vitro methods and computer algorithms to identify and categorise chemicals that can cause skin allergies.
Education initiatives in schools and universities
Responding to the European Parliament’s calls for more attention to be paid to education and training, EURL ECVAM stepped up its efforts to bring the Three Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experiments) into classrooms and lecture halls across the EU. Working extensively with educators, new sets of comprehensive teaching resources have been developed and freely shared, which are already being put to good use in a multitude of settings. The very popular JRC summer school on non-animal approaches in science also took place in 2021 attracting young talented participants from all over the world with a passion for innovation and non-animal methods.
- Publication date
- 7 April 2022
- Joint Research Centre