NIH, EPA partner to reduce their toxicity testing on animals

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The National Institutes of Health and Environmental Protection Agency have announced a collaboration to reduce the use of laboratory animals for testing the toxicity of compounds to humans.

An article in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Science outlined plans to shift from primarily in vivo animal studies for toxicity assessments to in vitro assays, in vivo assays with lower organisms, and computational modeling.

The collaborative program results from an agreement among the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Chemical Genomics Center under the National Human Genome Research Institute, and EPA National Center for Computational Toxicology.

The five-year agreement and the plans in the Science article provide a framework to implement the long-range recommendations of a 2007 report from the National Research Council, "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy," which called for a collaborative effort across the toxicology community to rely less on animal studies and more on in vitro tests using human cells. The report also calls for improvements in dose-response research to help predict toxicity at exposures that humans may encounter.