Consortium including Dow, DuPont, ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, animal NGOs and academia issue statement
As the European Commission hosts a technical workshop as part of its ongoing REACH chemicals regulation review, a consortium of industry, academia and civil society groups calls for the European Union to substantially increase investment in human-relevant research approaches to better address unmet human health needs and to replace animal testing in consumer safety assessment.
The Human Toxicology Project Consortium says excellence in European science must include greater emphasis on such approaches under the forthcoming “Horizon 2020” funding programme. In a statement to EU Commissioners, Parliamentarians and Member States, the consortium calls for investment in a research programme to uncover exactly how chemicals disrupt normal human biological processes at the molecular and cellular levels, coupled with “development of human biology-based cellular and molecular tests… [and] next-generation computational, systems biology, pharmacokinetic and related bioinformatic tools…” to make predictions regarding real-world risks to people.
Animal protection group Humane Society International, a consortium member, works globally on regulatory reform to see animal tests replaced with alternative approaches.
Troy Seidle, HSI’s director of research and toxicology, said: “Promotion of alternative, non-animal test methods is a central aim of REACH, and Horizon 2020 provides the funding mechanism for making this vision a reality, and for ensuring that European industry and regulatory authorities are equipped with the very latest technologies to advance human health and protect consumers.”
MEP Vittorio Prodi of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, said: “In recent years we have seen unprecedented scientific and technological advances that have the potential to completely transform the way we test chemicals, medicines and consumer products. By focussing EU health research funding on studies that are directly relevant to human beings rather than on mice and rats, I believe we will see astonishing progress, not just in safety testing but also in human health research in areas such as cancer and neurodegenerative disease where we desperately need this new generation of science to help crack disease questions that have eluded us for far too long.”
In the United States, the “Tox21” collaboration between the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration has already made substantial progress in screening 10,000 existing chemicals using robotic, high-throughput cell and molecular tests. The aim of the programme, like REACH, is to protect human health, yet the U.S. programme recognises that doing so requires an improvement in the way chemicals are tested.
HSI is hopeful that Horizon 2020 will serve as a frontline instrument for European and transatlantic cooperation on advancing safety science for humans with innovative, non-animal tools.