ICCVAM Unveils Eagerly Awaited 5-Year Plan

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In the Spotlight

ICCVAM Unveils Eagerly Awaited 5-Year Plan

Published: February 20, 2008
The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) released its long awaited five year plan at its 10th anniversary symposium held in Bethesda, MD on February 5th.

The broad outline of ICCVAM’s 5-year plan should be familiar to those who read the draft plan that was released several months ago. It identifies priority areas for alternative test method development: eye and dermal irritation, acute systemic toxicity, and biologics. The plan also describes activities ICCVAM can take to facilitate the acceptance and use of validated methods, and calls for strengthened relationships with ECVAM and other stakeholders to enhance efficiencies. ICCVAM/NICEATM efforts will also foster long-term technological advances that will pay dividends for the 3Rs.

However, the plan’s unveiling at the symposium appeared to be overshadowed by enthusiastic discussion of the National Research Council’s 2007 report that outlined a vision and strategy for the future of toxicity testing. While that enthusiasm is well-placed, we shouldn’t overlook the important role that ICCVAM/NICEATM can play in advancing alternative methods during the 10 years it is likely to take to realize the NRC vision. Indeed, one of the challenges identified in the 5-year plan is to foster the development of technology that will eventually translate into alternative methods.

At the 10th anniversary symposium, ICCVAM representatives stressed the interagency committee’s limited mandate and funding, which put it in the position of a facilitator while leaving it to others to do the heavy lifting of developing, optimizing, and validating alternative methods. ICCVAM would then evaluate the validation status of methods fed into its evaluation pipeline (by others) and otherwise use its influence to facilitate progress.

This limited role means that ECVAM and developments in Europe will continue to be the main drivers of progress for the immediate future. In this light, ICCVAM’s biggest challenge will be to ensure that methods validated in Europe have been developed, validated, and evaluated in ways that allow them to be readily accepted in the United States.