The European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) recently presented a report at the second “Europe Goes Alternative” conference, held Dec. 18, 2006, in Brussels. The report covered progress made towards the group's initial 2005 3Rs Declaration (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal testing), which articulated the EPAA’s vision and established its terms of reference. The objective stated by this declaration was "to accelerate the development, validation and acceptance of alternative approaches for the purposes of regulatory safety assessment."
The progress reported included updates on:
- mapping of past and current 3R activities to better inform the planning and prioritization of subsequent actions;
- prioritization, promotion and implementation of future research based on the application of the 3Rs;
- identification, dissemination and implementation of best practice in the use of the 3Rs;
- implementation of the 3Rs in regulation and decisionmaking; and
- validation and acceptance based on the 3Rs.
The complete progress report in detail may be downloaded at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/epaa/epaa_progress_report_2006.pdf.
Representatives from the European Commission and industry acknowledged the significant achievements made but also stressed the importance of additional partners joining the collaboration.
“In the past 12 months, 19 companies have joined the European Commission and the eight founding industry members of the EPAA, and this increase in expertise and resource has allowed us to accelerate progress,” said EPAA steering group co-chairs Georgette Lalis (for the European Commission) and Charles Laroche (for European industry).
“Nevertheless, if we are to achieve our ambitious aims of rapidly developing new safety assessment models that reduce, refine and replace animal testing, we need the broadest group of partners possible. We strongly encourage other companies to join the EPAA,” they added.
The group was able to, in its first year, bring together seven industry sectors and numerous commission services to identify common grounds for collaboration, to put in place a five-year action program based on a preliminary and realistic assessment of needs, and to establish a structure for implementation of the program drawing on the expertise of all member companies and commission services.
Although the majority of actions have a medium-to-long-term perspective, a number of short-term objectives has been achieved this year. The first attempt to document all activities relating to the refinement, reduction, and replacement of animal tests, as well as processes leading to facilitating validation, have progressed rapidly.
In the future, this will be key to focusing research and avoiding possible duplication of efforts. Similarly, a project to map all legislation governing animal testing for safety assessment has identified a number of areas where collaboration between the industry and regulators can enhance application of replacement, reduction and refinement methods in safety testing.
Lalis and Laroche added: “Although much has been achieved in the EPAA’s first year, we still have a long journey ahead of us. However, we are absolutely certain that the only really effective way to tackle the challenges ahead is through a genuinely collaborative approach, and we look forward to this partnership developing further in 2007 and beyond.”