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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

CAAT History

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing was founded in 1981 with a three year, $1 million grant from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. These funds were to be used to develop basic scientific knowledge necessary to create innovative non-whole animal methods for evaluating the safety and efficacy of commercial and therapeutic products.

From its inception CAAT has defined alternatives as methods which reduce, refine or replace whole animal methods. The three Rs (replacement, reduction, and refinement) were first articulated in a 1959 book, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique and have since become widely accepted by the scientific community and the public. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 specifically mandates the development and dissemination of replacement, reduction and refinement methodologies within the scientific community and an implementation plan related to this legislation was submitted to Congress in May 1994.

CAAT was founded at a time when the scientific community in general and toxicologists in particular were under heavy attack for what was perceived to be excessive animal use for routine safety testing. Public criticism was augmented by the reservations expressed by some toxicologists that current practices were not keeping pace with scientific advances. Both lay and scientific criticism were predicated on the assumption that there were alternatives to current levels of whole animal use for at least some types of testing. CAAT was founded to explore the possibility of developing "in vitro" (in glass) and other alternatives to whole animal use for testing and product development.

Since 1981, there have been rapid developments in the field of in vitro toxicology. Advances in cellular and molecular biology have spurred significant growth of new technologies as evidenced by the large increase in presentations of research employing in vitro methodologies at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology between 1982 and 1992. Statistics released by industry reveal that some companies have reduced in vivo (whole animal) testing by as much as 90% for certain endpoints. A number of companies have eliminated whole animal testing entirely. Estimates suggest that in the U.S. cosmetics industry, the reduction of in vivo testing for eye irritation stands at 87%.