In the Spotlight
Q&A with Rodger Curren on IIVS/ARDF Alternatives Forum: Spotlight on Ingredients
AltTox: What is the rationale behind holding this meeting?
Curren: There were two major reasons for organizing this meeting; one was the fact that there has not been any major alternatives meetings in the US for a number of years. This is in contrast to Europe where it seems that virtually every month there is an important Congress. We know that there are many people vitally interested in alternatives in the US, and we wanted to provide a Forum where they could meet and exchange experiences and ideas.
Secondly, because the 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive and the REACH program will result in more safety evaluations of chemical ingredients being conducted by non-animal methods, we felt it was important to bring ingredient suppliers and final product manufacturers together to share testing strategies and common practices. In addition we knew that many ingredient suppliers were not as familiar with in vitro testing as final product manufacturers, and we hoped this meeting could help jump start their knowledge base.
AltTox: Why hold it now?
Curren: Because there is little time remaining to get prepared for new regulations. Many of the animal testing restrictions of the 7th Amendment will come into effect in March of 2009 – that’s only five months away from this meeting!
AltTox: Who are you hoping to draw?
Curren: We’ve geared the program primarily to chemical ingredient suppliers and final product manufacturers. Both were targeted so that there could be an exchange of ideas between the two groups concerning testing strategies – specifically what in vitro tests the manufacturers are comfortable with and therefore which tests the suppliers should commonly perform. The most efficient and economical way forward would be for suppliers to provide supporting data for their products that came from tests with which formulators are familiar.
AltTox: What’s the background for teaming up with ARDF on this Forum?
Curren: One of the reasons that ARDF and IIVS teamed up was the fact that this is the 15th anniversary for ARDF. ARDF had already planned to hold some type of commemorative event, so jointly sponsoring a scientific meeting on alternatives seemed the perfect solution. Given ARDF’s mission to fund and promote the development, validation and adoption of non-animal methods in biomedical research, product testing and education, ARDF is an ideal partner to organize such an event. As an exceptional bonus, ARDF had already uncovered a marvelous venue, the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. This facility has been newly renovated, and the lecture hall, museum, and library provide wonderful additions to excellent program.
AltTox: What is your rationale for hosting a series of meetings in the US focused on alternatives?
Curren: This is an extremely important field, with many scientists involved in US industrial and academic laboratories. They need the opportunity to meet with their colleagues and exchange ideas about new testing methods and the best ways to implement them. In vitro safety testing is the way of the future as clearly stated in the latest National Academy of Sciences report – Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. This seminal document outlines clearly how in vitro methods, computational methods, and genomics advances can work together to result in better predictions of the human response to the vast number new chemicals and formulations that we will potentially be exposed to in the future.
AltTox: What type of program can attendees expect?
Curren: We’ve put together an exciting program with speakers from both the US and Europe. We have a number of representatives from Europe addressing many of the core issues of the legislation – Vera Rogiers, Vice Chair of Europe’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, for example, speaking on ingredients testing for cosmetics, and Laura Gribaldo of the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods addressing their role in REACH and the 7th Amendment. We have a number of leading researchers describing currently used methods for an array of toxic endpoints, and William Stokes from the US ICCVAM, describing US efforts in methods validation. Finally we will have first hand descriptions of daily use of in vitro testing strategies used by several leading consumer products manufactures and ingredient suppliers. We can’t think of a better program to quickly initiate anyone to the modern field of alternatives.