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Press release - 9 October 2007
New initiative aimed at improved risk assessment
A proposal for the adoption of a sophisticated non-animal test method has been submitted to ECVAM (1) and the OECD (2), the EU bodies largely responsible for evaluating new test methods. The proposal in question is called toxicogenomics, developed in the early 1990s, and represents the modern application of toxicology, in which human cells are exposed to a test chemical. Depending on the cell types used and the genes affected by the chemical, it is possible to determine the type of damage the cell will experience, which could include cancer or nerve damage, and even deleterious effects to the reproductive system.
Toxicogenomics is far cheaper and far faster than the traditonal animal tests, the latter recently having been described as ‘simply bad science’ by professor Thomas Hartung, ECVAM’s director. The prestigious US National Research Council has already embraced the concept of toxicogenomics, as is evidenced in a recent report, entitled “Toxicity Testing in the Twenty-first Century: AVision and a Strategy”(3)
It is vital that the EU regulatory authorities adopt toxicogenomics without delay, as an integral part of evaluating the toxic risk of the 30,000 chemicals in their REACH programme (4). This is all the more urgent given the fact that we already live in the midst of a ‘chemical epidemic’ in terms of our exposure to substances known to be highly toxic and many of which are linked to a significant increase in childhood cancers, neurodegenerative diseases and allergies.
The voluntary submission of toxicogenomics data is already encouraged by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). The submission of this test proposal by Antidote Europe to the OECD and ECVAM represents an urgent call to action, aimed at those EU authorities responsible for safeguarding public health. Its immediate application will help to create a cleaner and safer environment for this and future generations.
Notes to editors:
A summary of the test proposal submitted to the OECD and ECVAM.
1. ECVAM (European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods)
2. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
3. See previous press release.
4. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), which entered into force on 1st June 2007.