Brussels conference puts spotlight on alternatives to animal testing

It won’t be long now until the annual European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) conference which takes place on 9 November here in Brussels.

The EPAA is an independent platform which brings together the European Commission and industry groups to collaborate on implementing the 3 Rs Declaration. It has been running since 2005 and has done a lot to bring together people who don’t talk as much as they should – like companies and regulators, or scientists and EU officials.

Last year’s event put the focus on ‘reduction and refinement’ while this time around the spotlight is on Integrated Testing Strategies (ITS) in animal research.

ITS can be tricky to define but is essentially a way to connect animal research methods, non-animal testing techniques and computer-based modelling to advance the cause of our old friends, the 3Rs.

Last month the EPAA ran a workshop on ITS so the annual conference is a natural follow-on from that.

The discussion will look at how ITS can be applied in a way that delivers efficient science-based results while reducing the use of animals, but at the same time meeting the growing demands of authorities and legal risk assessors.

Given Europe’s current obsession with innovation and competitiveness, it will be interesting to see whether ITS can really be the silver bullet that delivers all the information scientists need without compromising on speed, cost, or product safety. Plus, given that we’re in Brussels, one wonders what the EU can do to promote the use of appropriate ITS?

Can public and private stakeholders work together on non-competitive projects that will ultimately benefit all, perhaps along the lines of the Innovation Medicines Initiative?

The conference programme looks busy so hopefully we’ll get some answers on 9 November. We’ll be attending with a video to capture feedback from the day.

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