On June 30, 2022, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released another exciting update, publishing two new nonanimal test guidelines.
By Eryn Slankster-Schmierer, PhD
The OECD is an organization that works to establish internationally accepted testing guidelines to assess chemicals, cosmetics, and other products. Test guidelines are developed by an international group of experts and stakeholders representing government agencies, industry, and nonprofit organizations. Each guideline goes through many rounds of peer review and rigorous scrutiny by expert groups to yield harmonized guidelines that are accepted by governments and policymakers worldwide. These guidelines on chemical safety impact the way much of the world assesses the safety of chemicals.
The Physicians Committee, along with other members of the International Council on Animal Protection in OECD Programs (ICAPO), participates in these expert groups, facilitating the adoption of more modern, human-relevant computational and in vitro methods for chemical testing.
Last year, the Physician’s Committee celebrated the publication of the Defined Approach on Skin Sensitization (Guideline 497).This guideline made remarkable strides by offering the first ever complete replacement of mouse and guinea pig tests, using nonanimal alternatives for skin sensitization assessment. This groundbreaking achievement paved the way for the new TG 467; published just days ago, this defined approach offers a nonanimal approach for eye hazard potential. Another newly published guideline, TG 492B, offers a second alternative to animal-based eye hazard identification by outlining a Human Cornea-like Epithelium (RHCE) test method. These guidelines individually provide the opportunity to completely replace the Draize test. This longstanding, widely conducted test requires scientists to drip chemicals into the eyes of rabbits and, after 24 hours, assess the irritation and damage that follows. The new test guidelines offer comprehensive, effective, and modern approaches to eye hazard assessment, making the Draize test obsolete and sparing countless rabbits from torture.
Another milestone reached in this year’s updates includes TG 442E. This in vitro skin sensitization guideline was updated this year to include the GARDSkin assay, which includes gene expression analysis. This exciting update marks the first-ever OECD harmonized method that incorporates gene expression as a regulatory endpoint. In addition to being an exciting new nonanimal model in the regulatory space, this landmark feat sets the stage for the improvement of existing tests and the creation of more innovative nonanimal tests, yielding more effective science while getting the animals out of the labs.