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PCRM's Proposal Against Animal Testing Gains International Support at European Congresses

It’s one of the most inhumane methods of animal testing. But PCRM scientists recently made good progress in promoting scientifically superior replacements for the acute inhalation test currently used to test chemical products, such as Lysol, on animals.

At recent conferences in Sweden and Austria, PCRM’s recommendations to end this testing, “Nonanimal Approaches to Inhalation Toxicity Assessment: A Proposal for a Way Forward,” were well received by international audiences.

mouse in lab testThe acute inhalation test is a procedure in which industrial chemicals, pesticides, and consumer products are tested by forcing rats or mice into small cylinders—barely as large as their bodies to ensure they cannot escape the test chemical—and piping the compounds into the cylinder.

The acute inhalation test is inhumane, and it is also highly inappropriate for determining potential toxic effects in humans. That’s because humans differ from rodents in important ways, including nasal and lung anatomy and metabolic ability.

Because acute inhalation tests on animals are unreliable, the scientific community is very interested in in vitro and in silico models of the respiratory system that can better assess respiratory system mechanics and toxicity responses in humans.

“The intent of our research was to assess the ‘state of the science’ of alternative and nonanimal methods of respiratory system toxicity assessment,” said PCRM toxicologist Kristie M. Sullivan, M.P.H., who presented the findings at two European congresses. “Our ultimate goal is to determine how to replace animals in the acute inhalation test.”

Based on a review of the many different in vitro cell and tissue models and computer-based models that are in varying stages of development and validation, she created a testing strategy for assessing acute respiratory system toxicity in humans and identified key steps required to accomplish this goal.

Because of the complexity of the respiratory system, it will likely be a combination of methods that replaces the acute inhalation test. The next step will be to develop a testing strategy made up of in vitro tests, in silico models, and expert systems and intelligent reasoning.

In September, Sullivan presented the findings at the Middle European Society for Alternative Methods Congress in Linz, Austria, and the 15th International Congress on In Vitro Toxicology, in Stockholm, Sweden, where she also sat on a panel entitled “New Challenges in In Vitro Toxicology.”

During the two congresses, Sullivan fostered relationships with an international group of in vitro, animal protection, and computer modeling scientists and regulators who are interested in working with PCRM to create the nonanimal acute inhalation toxicity assessment strategy PCRM proposed.

Kristie Sullivan , M.P.H.
Kristie Sullivan , M.P.H.

PCRM Online, November 2008

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