Alternatives to animals for determining the toxicity of nanoparticles

AUTHOR: Dr. Katy Taylor

ADDRESS: British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), 16a Crane Grove, London, N7 8NN


Katy is the scientific coordinator at the BUAV, ensuring that all policy initiatives and lobby goals are well supported by strong research and reasoned, accurate information. One of her roles is to represent the animal protection movement in stakeholder consultations regarding key animal testing areas such as nanotoxicity and chemicals testing (REACH). She is currently hosting the secretariat of the International Council for Animal Protection at the ICH, which advises the international drug harmonisation body on replacements for medicines testing. She has a PhD in behavioural epidemiology and has published on the welfare of companion and laboratory animals.

ABSTRACT: Whilst nanotechnology may also provide us with some of the solutions to animal use in scientific research, this area also carries with it the risk of increased use of animals in determining the toxicity of nanoparticles. Fortunately, nanotoxicity is a new area for regulators and one that might provide us with a valuable and unique opportunity to revisit the current concept of toxicity testing. Indeed this already appears to be happening, with a preponderance of in vitro studies over animal models. For example, techniques have been developed to investigate the translocation of nanoparticles through the blood-brain barrier, the respiratory epithelia and the skin, completely in vitro. Such methods have the advantage in that they enable not only the early indication of likely cytotoxic effects but the mechanism by which they might occur. The use of diseased human tissues can also identify any likely enhanced toxicity due to increased sensitivity and deterioration, without the additional problems of extrapolation from animal models. An intelligent or tiered testing strategy for chemicals safety testing has been adopted under REACH and can form the basis for a similar strategic approach to testing nanomaterials. An example for how these methods may fit into a testing strategy for nanotoxicity is offered.



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