2000 ATLA Alternatives to laboratory animals 2000 ;28 (1):29-40
Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers and Veterinary Medicine (BgVV), Thielallee 88-92, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Local irritation/corrosion testing strategies : Development of a decision support system for the introduction of alternative methods

The notification procedure for new chemicals of the European Union (EU) requires protocols on physicochemical and toxicological tests for the evaluation of physicochemical properties and probable toxic effects of each notified substance. In order to reduce the amount of animal testing, alternative methods should be introduced into toxicity testing. Therefore, we have developed a rule-based decision support system (DSS) for the prediction of the local corrosive/irritant properties of new chemicals. To this end, data on more than 1000 substances were examined, which resulted in approximtely 180 "exception-rules" of the kind IF (physicochemical property) A THEN not (toxic) Effect B. In addition, the structural formulae of the chemicals were analysed, which resulted in approximately 160 "structure-rules" of the kind IF Substructure A THEN Effect B. The DSS can predict (based on theoretical structure-activity relationships) whether a chemical produces: a) corrosive effects (i.e. no testing is necessary; b) might have corrosive effects (i.e. no animal testing, in vitro tests are suitable); and c) will produce no effects or only marginal effects (i.e. animal tests are necessary based on current EU legislation for hazard assessment purposes). In addition, the DSS provides reliable data for legal classification and labelling based on a specific result.