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Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: Robots to Reduce Animal Testing
Posted: March 25, 2008
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is collaborating with the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the safety testing of chemicals. Both agencies have agreed to a new toxicity testing agreement to reduce reliance on animal testing.
The concept behind this agreement is highlighted in the Feb. 15, 2008 issue of the journal Science. According to the report, the collaboration has the potential to make crucial discoveries that will protect the public health by identifying and understanding chemical toxicants to which people are exposed.
Two NIH institutes have formed a collaboration with the EPA to use the NIH Chemical Genomics Center's (NCGC) high-speed, automated screening robots to test suspected toxic compounds using cells and isolated molecular targets instead of laboratory animals. The trans-agency collaboration is anticipated to generate data more relevant to humans; expand the number of chemicals that are tested; and reduce the time, money and number of animals involved in testing.
Full implementation of the hoped-for paradigm shift in toxicity testing will require validation of the new approaches, a substantial effort that could consume many years. This collaboration is being made possible through a newly signed, five-year memorandum of understanding, which leverages the strengths of each organization.
The memorandum builds on the experimental toxicology expertise at the National Toxicology Program (NTP), headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), NIH; the high-throughput technology at NCGC, managed by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), NIH; and the computational toxicology capabilities at the EPA's recently formed National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT).