We review the accelerating development of computer-based approaches to replace animal tests
Posted By Cat on 26th February 2020
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A new article by our science team, which reviews the development of computer-based techniques to replace animal tests over the past two decades, has been published in the scientific journal Computational Toxicology.
The paper, Regulatory Drivers in the Last 20 Years Towards the Use of In Silico Techniques as Replacements to Animal Testing for Cosmetic-Related Substances, discusses the regulatory and scientific drivers that have encouraged the development of computer-based (in silico) approaches to replace animal testing for cosmetics. It considers key legislative and policy changes in Europe, North America and at the OECD over the last 20 years as contributing factors.
Computer-based approaches include computer models of physiological processes as well as data mining tools that can help make predictions about the likely hazard of one substance based on existing data from other, similar substances.
The review found that in Europe, public opinion and ethical considerations have been the key drivers of legislative changes. The introduction of Cosmetics Regulation 1224/2009, which includes bans on animal testing for cosmetics, and the implementation of Directive 2010/63/EU, which includes the requirement to use alternatives, have led to an increase in the development of computer-based approaches and other non-animal test methods.
In North America however, efforts towards the development of computer-based techniques have been made largely in response to economic and scientific factors, rather than public opinion or ethics. There is a growing appreciation that tests on animals are not always predictive of human responses and that replacement methods, particularly computer-based approaches, can be significantly faster and cheaper. Therefore, efforts in North America over the past 20 years have been largely voluntary and not driven by regulatory requirements as they have been in Europe.
Whatever the driving factors may be, it is clearly time the regulatory industry as a whole recognised the failure of animal tests, and embraced superior, humane and human-relevant methods, including computer models, so that their full potential can be realised.