Environmental Factor, January 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Casey presents at international meeting on alternatives for endocrine disruptors
Warren Casey, Ph.D., deputy director of the NICEATM, participated in an expert discussion in Paris of in vitro methods of detecting endocrine disruptors. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Warren Casey, Ph.D., deputy director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM)(http://iccvam.niehs.nih.gov/), traveled to Paris in late November to participate in an expert meeting to discuss in vitro methods for detecting substances that might interfere with normal hormone function.
Casey presented an update on NICEATM activities relevant to these types of test methods at the Eighth Meeting of the Validation Management Group for Non-animal Testing (VMG-NA). The Nov. 30-Dec. 2 meeting was sponsored by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (http://www.oecd.org/home/0,2987,en_2649_201185_1_1_1_1_1,00.html) and convened at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
Casey's presentation detailed the status of NICEATM-sponsored validation studies for two in vitro methods proposed for identifying endocrine disruptors that interfere with normal estrogen function. One method, the BG1 Luc ER TA (known also as the LUMI-CELL® ER assay) uses human ovarian cancer cells to identify substances that might increase or decrease estrogenic activity (i.e., estrogen agonists and antagonists).
Likewise, the MCF-7 cell proliferation test method uses human breast cancer cells to accomplish the same goal. These efforts are a high priority for NICEATM and the NICEATM-supported Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM).
NICEATM and ICCVAM have a commitment to building global partnerships to advance alternatives to animal testing, and participation in events such as the recent OECD meeting are an important part of developing those partnerships.
Concerns about endocrine disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are substances that interfere with the normal function of hormones in the endocrine system. Public health concerns have resulted largely from studies indicating that animal populations exposed to high levels of these substances have an increased incidence of reproductive and developmental abnormalities. While the impact of endocrine disruptors on human health remains poorly defined, these growing concerns warrant the availability of methods that can provide accurate and timely identification of potential endocrine disruptors.
The validation study for the MCF-7 assay, which involves participating laboratories from the U.S., Japan, and Korea, is ongoing. The validation study of the BG1 Luc ER TA, which included participating laboratories from the U.S., Europe, and Japan, was completed in 2010. Data from this study will be reviewed at an ICCVAM-sponsored independent peer review panel meeting taking place beginning in March.
NICEATM and ICCVAM will convene the panel meeting March 29-30. In addition to data from the validation studies, the panel will also consider ICCVAM draft test method recommendations on the usefulness and limitations of this test method for identifying potential estrogen agonists or antagonists.
Casey serves along with endocrine disruptor experts
In addition to presenting at the meeting, Casey served on the scientific committee for the meeting, along with experts in the field of endocrine disruption from the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Europe.
Other ICCVAM-affiliated presenters at the meeting included Jack Fowle, Ph.D., of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is EPA's principal ICCVAM representative and a member of the ICCVAM Interagency Endocrine Disruptors Working Group. This group is currently working with NICEATM to prepare for the upcoming peer review panel meeting.
Documents will be provided to the panel and made available for public comment early next year. All publicly available documents and details about the meeting will be available on the NICEATM-ICCVAM website.