Testing Alternatives

Since its inception in 1994, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) has validated only a handful alternative methods and recommended them for use to the scientific community. While none of these methods permanently replace the use of animals in a particular study, they do reduce and refine their use. Some notable alternatives are described below. View the complete list of alternatives.

Acute Toxicity In Vitro Starting Procedure, 3T3 Cells

Using rodent cells to estimate starting doses for in vivo acute oral toxicity tests, this 3T3 basal cytotoxicity test is a reduction method that minimizes the number of animals used in each procedure.

Acute Toxicity In Vitro Starting Procedure, NHK Cells

This NHK basal cytotoxicity method uses human cells to estimate starting doses for in vivo acute oral toxicity tests, reducing the number of animals used for each test.

Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) Test Method

An in vitro test for detecting eye irritants, the BCOP test method uses tissues obtained from slaughterhouses to replace the use of live animals. Federal agencies have accepted ICCVAM's recommendation to use this test for identification of products that may cause severe or permanent eye damage. However, live animals must still be used to confirm negative results.

Isolated Chicken Eye (ICE) Test Method

The ICE test method uses tissue obtained from slaughterhouses, which would otherwise be discarded, to detect eye irritants. Federal agencies have accepted ICCVAM's recommendation to use this test for identification of products that may cause severe or permanent eye damage. However, live animals must still be used to confirm negative results.

Corrositex®

An in vitro test to determine skin corrosion, Corrositex® uses a biomembrane and chemical detection system that changes color when in contact with corrosive substances. In some cases, this could replace the use of rabbits in corrosivity research; however, ICCVAM concluded that in certain cases Corrositex® should be used in conjunction with animal tests.

EPISKIN™

A model of reconstructed human epithelium, developed to test skin corrosion. This method was first validated by the European Coalition on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) as a complete replacement for animal tests. In contrast, ICCVAM has validated EPISKIN™ for reduction purposes, suggesting that some substances may need to be tested on animals after using this method.

EpiDerm™

Used in the study of skin corrosion and toxicology, EpiDerm™ is a layered model of human-derived epidermal keratinocytes. This method was first approved by ECVAM for use as a stand-alone assay. However, ICCVAM recommended that EpiDerm™ be used only as part of a tiered assessment strategy, which may or may not involve animals.

Rat Skin Transcutaneous Electrical Resistance (TER) Assay

Replacing the use of rabbits in skin corrosivity tests, the Rat Skin TER Assay utilizes rat skin samples instead. Despite the fact that ECVAM recommended the Rat Skin TER Assay for use in all corrosivity tests, ICCVAM deemed this method unreliable in testing certain classes of chemicals, and suggested that traditional animal studies still be used.

Murine Local Lymph Node Assay (LLNA)

The Murine LLNA is used as an alternative to guinea pig tests that screen for allergic reactions on the skin. Unfortunately, the Murine LLNA uses mice as a substitute to test substances topically.

Up-and-Down Procedure (UDP)

Used to estimate acute oral toxicity, the UDP is an in vivo test that reduces the number of rodents used.

The following test has been used for years prior to the passage of ICCVAM:


Ames test

Uses specific strains of common bacteria to detect genetic changes caused by test substances.

The following alternatives have already been approved by the European Coalition on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) and are awaiting action by ICCVAM:


In vitro pyrogenicity

Five in vitro alternatives to the rabbit pyrogen test use cytokine released from human blood cells. These methods have been reviewed by ICCVAM and are now awaiting final approval by federal agencies. ICCVAM recommends these alternatives on a case by case basis for certain types of drugs, reducing the use of animals in pyrogenicity testing.


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