Steps towards the international regulatory acceptance of non-animal methodology in safety assessment

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The current animal-based paradigm for safety assessment must change. In September 2016, the UK National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) brought together scientists from regulatory authorities, academia and industry to review progress in bringing new methodology into regulatory use, and to identify ways to expedite progress. Progress has been slow. Science is advancing to make this possible but changes are necessary. The new paradigm should allow new methodology to be adopted once it is developed rather than being based on a fixed set of studies. Regulatory authorities can help by developing Performance-Based Standards. The most pressing need is in repeat dose toxicology, although setting standards will be more complex than in areas such as sensitization. Performance standards should be aimed directly at human safety, not at reproducing the results of animal studies. Regulatory authorities can also aid progress towards the acceptance of non-animal based methodology by promoting “safe-haven” trials where traditional and new methodology data can be submitted in parallel to build up experience in the new methods. Industry can play its part in the acceptance of new methodology, by contributing to the setting of performance standards and by actively contributing to “safe-haven” trials.

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