Rethinking the toolbox of toxicology The Centre for Alternative to Animal Testing – Europe (CAAT-EU)
Developing alternative approaches to animaltesting and, more in general, updating the instrumentstoxicologists use to test compounds has become ofgrowing importance. It was 1959 when Russell and Burchset a milestone in the field of toxicology with thepublication of their study “The Principles of HumaneExperimental Technique”, which introduced the conceptof the “three Rs”, reduction, refinement andreplacement, for a more ethical animal experimentation.A long road has been made since then, but therevolution in the contents of the toolbox of toxicology isstill pending. In fact, several “traditional” animal basedtesting procedures developed more than half a centuryago are still in use in their unaltered original form. Inaddition, an ever growing number of evidences poseserious doubts on the real predictive value of animalbased testing methods. In Europe, the introduction of theREACH Regulation, the 7th amendment of the CosmeticsDirective posed precise new challenges for toxicologistswhich cannot be faced with old fashioned methods andapproaches. Moreover, in the USA the concept is underdevelopment of a Toxicology for the 21t Century, or Tox-21c, focusing on human relevant high throughputmethods.Within this context, on March 30th 2010 anagreement was signed between the University ofKonstanz (Germany) and the Johns Hopkins BloombergSchool of Public Health in Baltimore (USA) to jointlyestablish the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing-Europe (CAAT-EU) in an effort to promote bettercoordination in toxicity testing. The new centre, modelledafter the Bloomberg School’s Centre for Alternatives toAnimal Testing in Baltimore, will conduct scientificresearch to find new methods to replace the use oflaboratory animals in studies, reduce the number ofanimals needed for research and refine necessary teststo eliminate the pain and distress of animals in research.