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Protecting Human and Animal Health: The Road from Animal Models to New Approach Methods.

Pharmacological Reviews 2024 Februrary 14
Animals and animal models have been invaluable for our current understanding of human and animal biology, including physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and disease pathology. However, there are increasing concerns with continued use of animals in basic biomedical, pharmacological, and regulatory research to provide safety assessments for drugs and chemicals. There are concerns that animals do not provide sufficient information on toxicity and/or efficacy to protect the target population, so scientists are utilizing the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3Rs) and increasing the development and application of new approach methods (NAMs). NAMs are any technology, methodology, approach, or assay used to understand the effects and mechanisms of drugs or chemicals, with specific focus on applying the 3Rs. Although progress has been made in several areas with NAMs, complete replacement of animal models with NAMs is not yet attainable. The road to NAMs requires additional development, increased use, and, for regulatory decision making, usually formal validation. Moreover, it is likely that replacement of animal models with NAMs will require multiple assays to ensure sufficient biologic coverage. The purpose of this manuscript is to provide a balanced view of the current state of the use of animal models and NAMs as approaches to development, safety, efficacy, and toxicity testing of drugs and chemicals. Animals do not provide all needed information nor do NAMs, but each can elucidate key pieces of the puzzle of human and animal biology and contribute to the goal of protecting human and animal health. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Data from traditional animal studies have predominantly been used to inform human health safety and efficacy. Although it is unlikely that all animal studies will be able to be replaced, with the continued advancement in new approach methods (NAMs), it is possible that sometime in the future, NAMs will likely be an important component by which the discovery, efficacy, and toxicity testing of drugs and chemicals is conducted and regulatory decisions are made.

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