2003 ALTEX 2003 ;20 (Suppl 1):3-61
Toxicology Consulting Services, Plainsboro, USA.

Alternatives to animal testing: research, trends, validation, regulatory acceptance

Current trends and issues in the development of alternatives to the use of animals in biomedical experimentation are discussed in this position paper. Eight topics are considered and include refinement of acute toxicity assays; eye corrosion/irritation alternatives; skin corrosion/irritation alternatives; contact sensitization alternatives; developmental/reproductive testing alternatives; genetic engineering (transgenic) assays; toxicogenomics; and validation of alternative methods. The discussion of refinement of acute toxicity assays is focused primarily on developments with regard to reduction of the number of animals used in the LD(50) assay. However, the substitution of humane endpoints such as clinical signs of toxicity for lethality in these assays is also evaluated. Alternative assays for eye corrosion/irritation as well as those for skin corrosion/irritation are described with particular attention paid to the outcomes, both successful and unsuccessful, of several validation efforts. Alternative assays for contact sensitization and developmental/reproductive toxicity are presented as examples of methods designed for the examination of interactions between toxins and somewhat more complex physiological systems. Moreover, genetic engineering and toxicogenomics are discussed with an eye toward the future of biological experimentation in general. The implications of gene manipulation for research animals, specifically, are also examined. Finally, validation methods are investigated as to their effectiveness, or lack thereof, and suggestions for their standardization and improvement, as well as implementation are reviewed.