SciTech

Society of Toxicology holds annual meeting

A rabbit undergoes animal testing. Animals are often treated poorly for testing and suffer extreme side effects. (credit: Courtesy of Understanding Animal Testing, via Flickr) A rabbit undergoes animal testing. Animals are often treated poorly for testing and suffer extreme side effects. (credit: Courtesy of Understanding Animal Testing, via Flickr)

Last week, at the Society of Toxicology’s annual meeting in Baltimore, MD, several companies joined the folds to improve chemical analysis to determine effects on human health without relying on animal testing.

Animal testing is and always will be a very controversial issue. Often, debate surrounds the morality, necessity, and application of animal testing.

There are many strict regulations with regard to animal testing, and different regulatory bodies, including Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program. One of the more prominent topics at the meeting was discussing how to manage regulatory assessment and review changes made to regulatory documents. As a part of the changes made to the United States’ Toxic Substance Control Act last year, one of the requirements is more data collection and reporting.

UL (formerly Underwriter Laboratories), a testing and certification company, made moves to reduce the need for animal testing with their new software called REACHAcross. According to UL, REACHAcross relies on machine learning to look at a chemical’s behavior by continually enhancing the software with data, thus reducing the need for animal testing.

Especially in recent years, one organization that promotes methods for reducing animal testing is Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which is a nonprofit organization. At the meeting this year, PCRM hosted a seminar that encouraged organizations to utilize “read-across” data management in order to predict the toxicity of a chemical. “Read-across” data management involves applying data of a known, tested chemical to an untested chemical of similar makeup.

Other nonprofit groups are looking into communicating directly with laboratories to secure the release of animals used for testing. One such organization, the Beagle Freedom Project, a nonprofit run by Animal Rescue, Media, and Education (ARME), has awarded $200,000 to scientists for developing alternative methods to animal testing.

In addition to providing methods to reduce animal testing at the meeting, a number of organizations are now sharing data, including Eli Lilly & Co., Dow AgroSciences, and the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute.