News

  • DB-ALM revised version now online. Read more
  • Second edition of the EURL ECVAM Search Guide now available in the EU Bookshop

About the DB-ALM

Welcome to the DB-ALM version with an entirely revised data retrieval approach

The DB-ALM is a public, factual database service that provides evaluated information on development and applications of advanced and alternative methods to animal experimentation in biomedical sciences and toxicology, both in research and for regulatory purposes.

Starting from 2015, all new method summaries are provided in a format compliant with the new OECD Guidance. Read More

The service is operated by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, based on a legal requirement1,2.

The current version of the DB-ALM covers the following Data Sectors:
Topic Summaries: Thematic review data sheets in a form of an executive summary on alternative methods, available in the DB-ALM for an entire topic area (e.g. Percutaneous Absorption, Eye Irritation).
Method Descriptions: Two levels of detail: i) method summaries covering the scientific principle, the needs addressed, main applications, and current status of the development, validation or acceptance; ii) protocols include detailed technical instructions to enable the transfer of a method to a laboratory.

Project & Study Descriptions: Evaluations of methods, including EU integrated projects and selected formal validation studies as summary records, cross-referenced with related data sectors.
Compounds & Test Results: Lists of substances and selected individual investigations performed with methods included in the DB-ALM.
Persons & Institutions: An inventory(Who is Who)of persons and institutions active in the field of alternative methods, based on a voluntary participation.
Bibliography: All references analysed for the compilation of the data sheets.

NOTE: The new data retrieval approach is already operational for the Methods data sector, the remaining data sectors will be subject to subsequent releases. Until then they can be accessed through the DB-ALM previous version.


1 SEC(91)1794, Communication of the European Commission to Council and the European Parliament in October 1991, pointing to a requirement in Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, OJ L No. 358, 18.12.1986.

2 Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, Article 48, Annex VII (2)(d), OJ L Nr. 276/33, 20.10.2010.

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The DB-ALM Project

Rationale of the DB-ALM

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has established the DB-ALM based on a legal requirement 1,2. It was recognised that the readily access to suitable and adequately described (non-animal) methods is a prerequisite for their use within decision making processes by regulators for safety assessments or by any end-user.

The DB-ALM is a public service and available in its current form since October 2006 launched in occasion of the 15th anniversary of ECVAM, today the EU Reference Laboratory on Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM). An entirely revised version is available since 2014.

The initial establishment of the service was supervised by an international Advisory Board that included representatives of academia and independent National competence centres for alternative methods. The further progress has been monitored by the EURL ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC).

The DB-ALM provides ready-to-use information presented as evaluated data-sheets in the form of summary records and/or detailed information on various aspects of animal alternatives in the field of biomedical sciences and toxicology for research and regulatory purposes. The data sheets are compiled by experts in the field with current focus on non-animal methods for toxicological evaluations of chemicals and formulations, but not restricted to these applications only. Method descriptions can cover various approaches: mathematical models, cell and tissue culturing techniques, testing strategies and advanced in vitro methods for safety and efficacy testing of chemical and medicinal products. The target user groups are the Interational and National Authorities, Industry, Academia, the Animal Welfare Movement and the services of the European Commission.

The DB-ALM is indicated by the European Chemicals Agency as a useful source of information on in vitro methods for REACH registration purposes (REgistration, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals, EC Regulation No. 1907/2006), which can be considered during information gap analysis or in a weight of evidence approach:

In December 2014, the OECD has adopted a Guidance Document n°211 for Describing Non-Guideline In Vitro Test Methods to facilitate their consideration in regulatory applications. Herein the DB-ALM is indicated as one of the publicly available repository/library of methods that may be helpful in dissemination of comprehensive method descriptions. The format of the Method Summary in DB-ALM is adopted accordingly to ensure the compliance with the new guidance for new or updated data sheets entered after January 2015.

The Data Content

Origin of information

The DB-ALM provides full method descriptions and related information on alternative approaches to animal experimentation in form of evaluated data sheets. The information originates from:

  • EURL ECVAM validation activities
  • Individual submissions of methods at all stages of development by developers and/or users
  • Outcomes of (Inter)National Projects including EU Integrated Projects
  • Extensive bibliographic reviews and analysis of related resources done during the thematic review process

After the selection, evaluation and final assessment of the available information, which is summarised, brought into a logical context and finally compiled into comprehensive ready-for-use data sheet(s). Further details of this process are provided in the Workstrategy section.

Topic areas

The initial focus has been given to in vitro techniques for toxicology assessments of chemicals and/or formulations for regulatory purposes, however DB-ALM also includes descriptions of computational and experimental approaches used in:

  • biokinetic analysis and exploratory or mechanistic studies of bioactive substances, chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • the assessment of biocompatibility of medical devices
  • quality control and batch release testing of pharmaceuticals and vaccines
  • reduction and refinement of in vivo methods

Data sectors

The DB-ALM uses in-house (EURL ECVAM and other DG JRC services) competence and expertise in support to the definition and/or revision of the information content and collaborates with international experts in the respective fields of science for the definition of the individual data sheets addressing:

Topic Summaries

  • Thematic Reviews are made available (particularly during past activities) to provide an overall view about the information content on alternative and advanced methods available from the DB-ALM for an entire topic area (e.g. Percutaneous Absorption or Effects on Reproduction). The date of the last update is always indicated.

In Vitro/Advanced Approaches

  • Methods

    Information on methods is provided at two levels of detail: summary descriptions or protocols:

    • Summary descriptions
      The method summaries review the objectives and applications of a method, the scientific principle, its origin and need for it, the rationale for its experimental design, the status of development, validation or regulatory acceptance (as applicable). An example of a data reporting format provided in a synthesised manner for a non-animal Method Summary description laying down the criteria for data content is shown below. In 2015 it has been adapted to be compliant with the OECD Guidance Document n°211 for Describing Non-Guideline In Vitro Test Methods.

      Extract of the Method Summary reporting format

      METHOD NAME

      One-two sentence abstract on the scientific principle of the method

      GENERAL INFORMATION

      Status

      The extent of method's use by laboratories, development and eventual validation status according to internationally recognised principles, regulatory acceptance and standards.

      Contacts

      Persons and organisations familiar with the method (developers or expert users)

      Practicalities

      Proprietary or confidentiality issues, throughput, or special resources.


      METHOD DEFINITION

      Purpose

      Structured overview of the objectives and type and level of assessment provided, referring to e.g.: mechanistic information, human health or environmental effects, testing of quality, efficacy, safety or biocompatibility; cell and tissue culturing techniques.

      Context and suggested applications

      Proposed regulatory and/or non-regulatory uses. For example:

      - screening, priority setting or grouping

      - test batteries, integrated approaches to testing and assessment

      - weight of evidence approaches, adverse outcome pathways

      - the respective in vivo test addressed (if applicable)

      - basic or applied research objectives

      Scientific rationale

      The origin and need for the method. The scientific principle and mechanistic or biological basis and relevance.

      Procedure description

      Where applicable, a short summary of the study design and the basic procedures, e.g. the preparations, dosing, exposure, sampling and measurements.

      - Biological endpoint and measurement

      - Endpoint value

      - Test system

      - Exposure regime

      Quality and acceptance criteria

      List of criteria ensuring the appropriate and adequate execution of the method (including controls and performance standards).

      Data analysis and interpretation

      Calculations and statistical methods used for data analysis and interpretation. The rules for the prediction of the in vivo effects from the data (if applicable).


      METHOD PERFORMANCE

      Robustness and applicability

      Any performance measure most appropriate for the specific method, such as information on:

      - reliability (within- and between-laboratory reproducibility)

      - relevance (sensitivity, specificity and accuracy)

      - accessibility of its results (where appropriate).

      Possible applicability domains: test materials to which this method can/has been applied and proven compatible or incompatible with.

      Discussion

      Main advantages and/or limitations of the method, comparison to other related methods, possible adaptations/modifications, challenges, ethical concerns and potential for future developments.


      NOTE:

      • The sections are not mandatory. The information provided depends on the type of the method (e.g. experimental methods are realised differently than computational ones), its intended use and development status.
      • In the DB-ALM the term "method" is simultaneously used for: approaches, techniques, assays, experimental or computational models.

    • Protocols
      More technical information is provided to such a detail that allows the transfer of a method to a laboratory in the form of a standard operating procedure. The data entry format for Protocols accommodates all technical details necessary to adopt the method in a new laboratory without the need of additional information.
      The initial protocol collection has originally been established under the name INVITTOX by the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME, UK) and has been transferred to and further developed and expanded by the EURL ECVAM since 1996.

  • Projects and Studies
    • Evaluation Studies
      Information is provided on studies conducted to establish the methods/assays/test systems and to assess the methods’ variability and robustness over time. Data sheets are based on the information available from the literature and are made available as summary records covering the objective, procedure and outcome.
    • EU Integrated Projects
      Information is provided on studies conducted by selected EU-funded research consortia with the aim to develop new 3R's (replacement, reduction and refinement) test methods and strategies in safety testing, where no alternatives to the use of animals are currently available.
    • Formal Validation Studies

      Data sheets are based on the outcome of the selected formal validation studies for 5 topic areas. The study is considered "formal" if done according to EURL ECVAM's modular approach to test development and validation. This sector contains summary records on studies assessing the reproducibility within and between laboratories and over time (reliability) and the usefulness (relevance) of the method with relevance to the animal alternatives topic area.

  • Compounds and Test Results

    This sector contains the description of selected investigations and respective results for a substance with a given method carried out by various laboratories. Test Results data sheets include information on type of tested material, names of the laboratories where the experiment took place, experimental details, such as dosage and exposure regime, information on data interpretation and source references.

  • Bibliographic References

    All references and sources used for the compilation of the data sheets for the DB-ALM are included, such as: scientific publications, project websites, conference proceedings, workshop reports, validation study documents, regulatory guidance documents and regulations, which are made available for retrieval procedures independently of having them included in the individual data sheets.

  • Persons & Institutions Active in the Field of Alternative Methods (Who is Who)

    The inventory of persons and institutions active in the field of animal alternatives, provided on voluntary basis. This includes:

    • Contact details of scientists and institutions using/developing/evaluating specific in vitro techniques that are available as DB-ALM protocols or are originating from voluntary manifestations of interest resulting among others from a survey conducted by the EURL ECVAM
    • Institution profile
    • Fields of activity

Controlled vocabularies and database classification terms

Data compilation and retrieval procedures in the DB-ALM are based on the classification lists and controlled vocabularies maintained in-house, that cover:

  • Biological endpoints describe the processes, responses or effects and/or techniques used to assess them.
  • Endpoint Values are the precise values investigated in a given assay
  • Experimental systems refer to the (bio)systems used to study the investigated effect
  • Topic areas refer to the field of applications of the methods
  • Categories of methods/models according to the level of biological organisation

Information retrieval

NOTE: The guidelines provided in this section apply to the DB-ALM revised version only.

The DB-ALM provides users oriented information in the form of evaluated data sheets with the different levels of information content, but also different possibilities of information retrieval are offered : free text search , and guided search options . The DB-ALM information content is organised in a semi-structured manner and is classified based on its contents and concepts (e.g. topic concerned, level of assessments, category of model used including its level of biological organisation, biological endpoints and their measurements, status of development, or regulatory acceptance). Controlled vocabularies are used during the description of the methods to better reflect and consequently retrieve the information contained, a fundamental principle of today's scientific knowledge management.

The so called " faceted navigation " could consequently be applied to the DB-ALM allowing users to explore the collections of information and concepts from different points of view and to navigate the information along multiple paths with its individual search options in a more user friendly manner.

The DB-ALM revised version provides a refined data retrieval approach for the "method data sector" first offering a choice between two search strategies implemented with state-of-the-art search technology:

Free text search option

  • If no search terms or filters are used: the complete content of the "Methods" data sector will be displayed as an alphabetical list according to their fields of application with the choice of ordering by:
    • biological endpoints assessed or
    • the names of the method
  • Search filters can be applied by typing search terms, wildcards (*, %) and logical operators (e.g. AND, OR, NOT). When the first word or letters are being typed into the free text search field, the auto-complete function is activated and suggests selected terms found in specific database records where the matching keyword might be particularly relevant, due to its presence in the: topic, method name, biological endpoint or experimental model, contact or compounds field or contained in any other database classification list. The user is, therefore, offered a choice between either continuing his or her intended data retrieval procedure, or selecting a search term from the list of suggestions.

Guided search option

In contrast to the free text search option, the guided search offers modular interfaces that allow the user to add/remove search fields at any time of the data retrieval procedure. Using this progressive incremental query construction, users are able to formulate the equivalent of a sophisticated query by taking a series of small, simple steps. Also in this case, the auto-complete function can be used with the assistance of controlled vocabularies or freely chosen search terms can be entered by using wild cards and Boolean operators.

The following search fields (parameters) are available and can be used in any combination:

  • Method Names
  • Topics
  • Models & Strategies
  • Status
  • Biological Endpoints and Measurements
  • Experimental Systems

Terms from the classification lists: Topics, Models & Strategies and Status can be selected from a pre-defined drop-down list allowing for one or more terms to be combined. Queries including the Biological Endpoints and Measurements, Experimental Systems and Method Names are aided by the auto-complete function offering a choice of matching database records. When ignored and no search term is entered, the complete list of the database classification terms for the selected search parameter will be searched and linked data sheets retrieved.

Display of search results

Regardless of the search strategy used, the search results are displayed as an alphabetically-sorted list of the fields of application, including: the name/title, abstract , the link to the full data sheet (available as pdf document) and the links to the related database contents to the methods:

  • Topic Summaries
  • Projects and Studies
    • Evaluation studies
    • EU integrated projects
    • Validation Studies
  • Compounds and test results
  • Persons and institutions active in the field of alternative methods/Methods contact
  • Bibliography

The Search Results display provides now more options on how the results are displayed:

  1. Results can be filtered on Methods or Protocols or both
  2. Results can be sorted by topic, biological endpoint

Further filters are being implemented and will be available in the next releases of the revised DB-ALM data retrieval approach.



1 SEC(91)1794, Communication of the European Commission to Council and the European Parliament in October 1991, pointing to a requirement in Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, OJ L No. 358, 18.12.1986.

2 Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, Article 48, Annex VII (2)(d), OJ L Nr. 276/33, 20.10.2010.

Last page update: June 2015

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Workstrategy


The main mission of the DB-ALM is to provide comprehensive method descriptions and related information in order to facilitate the assessment of the usefulness of a method/model for a defined purpose that includes their use within:

  1. decision making processes by the regulators in safety assessments
  2. by any end-user in topic area of biomedical sciences and toxicology

The information content of the DB-ALM originates principally from two main working approaches:

  • provision of  project results  (original work) provided in the form of comprehensive method descriptions directly by the individual method owners or any other contact for a given method/approach resulting from individual research activities, projects or validation studies. Related information, such as study descriptions and test results are provided as they become available.
  • a proactive thematic approach based on extensive bibliographic reviews, where summary descriptions of methods or models in use are compiled and related information is provided for an entire topic area (e.g. eye irritation),

The DB-ALM operates in collaboration with international  experts in the respective fields of science  for the definition of the data sheets in addition to EURL ECVAM or other JRC services in-house expertise. The activities involve the selection evaluation  and  final assessment  of the information originally retrieved which is finally summarised, brought in a logical order and context in one comprehensive new document and is, therefore, ready-for-use . The initial focus has been given to in vitro techniques for toxicology assessments of chemicals and/or formulations, but is not restricted to it. All data sheets are reviewed by the DB-ALM staff before including them in the public DB-ALM version.


The major challenge for the DB-ALM consists in presenting scientific information that is available in different forms and levels of detail, completeness and plausibility with various focus and often with no relation among the single information pieces in a way that is most informative, readable and understandable by the non-experts in the field, providing an overall picture about its applications, scientific principle, eventual advantage and limitations, status of development and validation including who is working on it so far. Very rarely a single publication is linked to a factual protocol or exhaustive method description. Therefore these activities imply careful analyses and selection of the papers (medially one third of the initially selected articles is disregarded during the thematic review), bringing together that is missing and presenting it as one comprehensive standardised document that it therefore ready for immediate use. All are prepared in a way that allows to be processed by database allowing structured storage, management and subsequent easy retrieval.

 

Thematic approach

Particularly in the past, the main working approach for the DB-ALM, was the proactive thematic reviews. To best achieve the necessary quality for the information included in the DB-ALM,  the   strategy of working adopted for the definition of data sheets within a thematic approach can broadly be summarised as follows:

  1. Selection and in-depth evaluation of all relevant sources and articles.
  2. Definition of a provisional method/model list.
  3. Specific searches on each method/model by using biomedical online databases and related information sources.
  4. Definition of the relevant data sheets for the topic area investigated, such as the description of the methods, protocols, test results, evaluation and formal validation studies for the topic area in accordance with pre-determined criteria for data content and data evaluation.
  5. Consultation with domain experts (in-house specialist and/or external method developers).
  6. Online publication of finalised datasheets.

Project results 

At the moment project results (original work) are mainly provided in the form of Protocols. In these cases step-by-step descriptions for methods are included to such a detail that allows their transfer to a laboratory without the need of additional information. The protocols are written up by the respective method user/owner according to DB-ALM standards for data content and reviewed by DB-ALM staff before their publication online. The indication of that contact person on the document is always included.

The establishment of a harmonised and user-friendly data retrieval system is guaranteed by using harmonised data-entry formats for each data sector, defined by the DB-ALM and made available to the experts.

The data entry formats are combined with  criteria documents for their compilation to ensure the provision of  standardised and adequately documented methods and their related information.

The information uptake, software development and/or refinements of the DB-ALM are decided based on  regular working meetings   with the respective experts and emerging customer needs in compliance with EURL ECVAM priorities. As a result, the content criteria, the database content and presentation of the information online are continually evolving.

As far as the collection, analysis, treatment and publication of information are concerned, the EURL ECVAM's activities mainly address the following points:

  1. The definition of the content criteria and their evolution in the light of specific needs of the topic area under study, needs of EURL ECVAM's evaluations and customers
  2. The setting of priorities for data collection activities based on the EURL ECVAM's priorities, regulatory needs or advances in science
  3. The organisation of the information into method/model and/or clusters of methods and their classifications
  4. The maintenance and further development of classification systems/controlled vocabularies
  5. The choice of external experts and
  6. The decision on the online publication of data sheets

The data sheets for methods and related data sectors are prepared by external and EURL ECVAM's experts (including DB-ALM staff in some cases). After submission, examination is performed for consistency with eventually overlapping/similar database content and for being in line with database requirements for data content, structure, retrieval procedures ensuring the use of the controlled vocabularies. Furthermore, quality control of the finalised data sheets is carried out by the DB-ALM staff before public access is allowed.

 

Last page update: April 2015

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Data Coverage

Fields of Application

The information available in the DB-ALM originates from (inter)national research projectsindividual submissions from scientistsvalidation studies or bibliographic reviews, which have been performed on selected priority topics (fields of application). These systematic data collection activities in the form of thematic reviews have been carried out so far on 5 topics: Effects on reproduction, Eye Irritation, Hepatotoxicity/Metabolism-mediated toxicity, Neurotoxicity and Percutaneous absorption, for which also selected validation studies are described.

In total, detailed DB-ALM method descriptions, presented as comprehensive method summaries or individual protocols, are available for
26 different topic areas
which comprise main topics and subtopics (not shown in the table below). Whenever available, the methods validated by the EURL ECVAM are included.

 
Main TopicNumber of Data Sheets
Basal Cytotoxicity17
Biocompatibility & Safety of Medical Devices3
Biokinetics14
Cancer Research6
Culture Methods4
Environmental Toxicity6
Local Toxicity126
Pyrogenicity testing2
Sensitisation and Allergy7
Target Organ/System Toxicity130

NOTE: The topics covered are listed in alphabetical order. Some originated during the feasibility study when the service was initially set up.

 

Biological Endpoints

The DB-ALM method descriptions cover approximately  250 biological endpoints referring to biological processes, responses or effects that can be assessed at various levels of biological and molecular organisation. They include mechanistic, basal cytotoxicity as well as tissue-type, organ and organism specific parameters.

 Biological Endpoint ClustersNumber
Molecular interactions:
physicochemical, biochemical and biokinetic parameters
21
Cellular level:
proliferation, damage, metabolic and morphological effects
78
Tissue- and organ-specific functions and effects143
Model organism responses27

 

Data Sectors

The information content of the DB-ALM is divided across different data sectors. It covers not only the topics and method descriptions, but also a selection of relevant projects and studies, compounds, experiments with their test results, bibliographic references and contact details of persons and institutions active in the field of alternative methods. Further information is provided in The DB-ALM Project section.

 

Disclaimer: The numbers given refer to the information content currently available online and are subject to frequent variations, since the public version of DB-ALM is updated monthly on average.

Last page update: June 2015

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Use of DB-ALM

Following the launch of the revised DB-ALM Internet version in September 2014, a steady increasing interest in the service was observed during 2015 as well as in the first half of 2016. Even though data requests could be performed without the need of registration and a subset of information is provided, the service still can refer to a solid number of new registrations, with more than 200 new registered users in the first six months of 2016. The database service can now refer, over the entire period of online access, to a total of close to 5000 registrations from 82 countries, with a very similar users profile and geographic distribution of 2014/2015.

Also the rapidly growth of the number of searches (data retrieval procedures) in the Topic Summaries and Methods data sectors was confirmed in the first six months of 2016 with over 8700 searches. This trend, if confirmed, would show an increase of 6% compared to the 2015 and of more than 140% compared to the 2014. Furthermore, during the first six months of 2016 more than 1500 documents were downloaded, that would correspond, if also confirmed, to an increase of about 20% compared to the previous year and of about 80% compared to the 2014, being the fourth highest during 10 years of public access.

Last page update: June 2016

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Related Projects

EURL ECVAM Search Guide

Making full use of all sources of information on alternative methods is a key part of preparing research projects in the life sciences using laboratory animals in compliance with the EU legislative requirements. A major challenge to locate relevant high quality information about a proposed field of scientific investigation is the exponential increase of scientific publications in the recent past. Over the last years the electronic resources, originally developed to offer a potential solution to this problem, have shown a similar proliferation. The question arises: how best to search information specifically on the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement of animal use) in the World Wide Web that is heterogenic, constantly changing and growing?

The EURL ECVAM Search Guide (the Guide) provides examples of search procedures, user guidance and suggested search terms to facilitate the location of the desired information on 3Rs alternatives in addition to an inventory of relevant resources providing an answer to the question: What can I find where? A check list is moreover offered to allow searches in a systematic and structured way and to document them, key part of preparing any research project. The Guide is aimed at untrained database users and will be most relevant, for example, where comprehensive searches are required as part of authorisation processes for animal experiments and where regulatory requirements mandate the application of the 3Rs.

The Guide has been produced by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. It has had the collaboration of specialists from the German Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) and was assisted by an internationally composed project advisory board.

Free copies can be obtained from the EU Bookshop as PDF and e-Book.

The Search Guide on Facebook: EU Law and Publications.

Improved search approach: DB-ALM revised

Based on the experience gained during 6 years of operation of the DB-ALM offered to now over 4000 registered users on the Internet, the DB-ALM search interfaces have been entirely redesigned to offer more flexibility during data retrieval procedures. The so called "faceted navigation" is applied by combining the hierarchical structure based approach of the DB-ALM with direct search options in a more user friendly manner.

The new interface provides users with visible options for clarifying and refining queries. The user can combine text searches beginning with a classic keyword search narrowing the search results with a number of offered choices. Using this progressive incremental query construction, users will be able to formulate the equivalent of a sophisticated query by taking a series of small, simple steps.

The first version of the revised DB-ALM has been formally launched on the Internet in September 2014 to receive comments from our users on the new functionalities implemented for the Methods sector which will be considered when completing the revised version with the remaining data sectors that are still completely functional on this DB-ALM version, with the full information content.

The following options have been made available:

  • Auto-complete functions offer a choice of suggested search terms based on controlled vocabularies and contents (topics, methods, protocols, models, statuses, biological endpoints, experimental systems, compounds and contacts). It makes the data retrieval procedures more precise without the need of a deep knowledge of the DB-ALM information structure
  • Modular interfaces allow the user to add/remove search fields at any time of the data retrieval procedure
  • Contextual presentation of search results shows all information (search parameters/search results and related information) on the same page avoiding recursive navigation
  • Search Results display has been improved with more options on how the results are displayed:
    • Results can be filtered on Methods or Protocols or both
    • Results can be sorted by topic, endpoint or name or others to be defined
    • Results can be drilled into and the additional information is displayed inline. This allowing more than one method or protocol to be drilled into at the same time

DB-ALM online updating tools

Online updating possibilities are in the process of through revision and implementation. Once finalised the interactive application will permit, in close collaboration with the responsible DB-ALM staff, to submit a new method description to DB-ALM and/or to update existing data sheet that is already online. The final aim is to enable an update for each DB-ALM data sector in a more rapid and user-friendly manner and to ensure the provision of information updated to the state-of-the-art.

 

EURL ECVAM Tracking System for Alternative methods towards Regulatory acceptance (TSAR)

The TSAR has been set up by the Joint Research Centre to track progress, in a transparent manner, from proposal of an alternative method for validation through to its final adoption by its inclusion into the regulatory framework (EU, OECD and related).

A first version is online since 2008. However, the TSAR is currently under entire revision. The future application will also include explanations for the decisions that have been made at every step of the progress and in case a final decision is negative, TSAR will clearly indicate the reason why. The ultimate aim is to cover every step of the process: submissionvalidationpeer-review, recommendations and regulatory acceptance including international standards.

The EURL ECVAM is collaborating with international validation centres or organisations within the framework of ICATM (International Cooperation on Alternative Testing Methods). The future TSAR will function as a consolidated dissemination platform regarding on going validation activities of all ICATM partners.

The Thesaurus

The Thesaurus project refers to a past activity and was undertaken by EURL ECVAM as a pilot study to contribute to the harmonisation and organisation of terms and synonyms used in the animal alternatives topic area for data retrieval procedures The project focused on the identification of terms most commonly used by scientists active in the field of animal alternatives and compare it with those commonly used by database producers for indexing purposes. A novel technological approach was applied. As a first step, a subset of 2,000 documents has been processed. The resulting terms (1,000 out of 115,150) have been systematically ordered into a hierarchical thesaurus structure. The main focus was on in vitro toxicology.

For this project, the DB-ALM has collaborated with, The Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME, UK), the Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments (ZEBET, BfR, D), and experts from the National Library of Medicine (NLM, USA).

The value of developing a thesaurus specifically on animal alternatives should first be explored and verified with the end-user before any further steps will be undertaken. Therefore, the EURL ECVAM Thesaurus has been made available as an open source list to promote end-user discussions. Please take the time to consult the lists and submit your comments connecting to the Thesaurus.

Internet address: http://ecvam-dbalm.jrc.ec.europa.eu/beta/index.cfm/thesaurus/index

 

Last page update: April 2015

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Press Room & Citations

Year 2016

ECHA Information toolkit (first accessed in 2010)ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) suggests the use of ECVAM DB-ALM as a useful information source on in-vitro methods that could be considered during information gap analysis for REACH registration purposes.

Year 2015

DB-ALM Newsletter (August 2015)
DB-ALM now provides non-guideline in vitro test methods in OECD compliant format.

DB-ALM Newsletter (April 2015)
Ten new reports have been published in the JRC QSAR Model Database to provide key information on computational methods in the areas of Human Health effects and Ecotoxic effects.

Year 2014

Release of the DB-ALM 2014 Version
In April 2014, the EURL ECVAM decided to release the first version of the revised DB-ALM, presented at the 9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in Life Sciences and formally launched in October. The DB-ALM 2014 Version covers the whole data sector of in vitro Methods with access to the Topic Summaries and all related information. It offers entirely redesigned search interfaces, based on controlled vocabularies/classification lists, and more flexible and precise data retrieval procedures without requiring deep knowledge of the DB-ALM information structure*.

*Note: The new data retrieval approach is already operational for the Methods data sector with access to the entire DB-ALM information content. The remaining data sectors will be subject to subsequent releases but they are still completely functional on the DB-ALM previous version.

DB-ALM Newsletter (October 2014)
In addition to the publication of the revised DB-ALM 2014 Version, the information content has been updated with method descriptions for in vitro methods compliant with regulatory requirements and/or undergoing validation by the EURL ECVAM in the areas of Carcinogenicity, Eye Irritation and Skin Sensitisation.

Year 2013

DB-ALM Newsletter (September 2013)
In addition to the publication of the updated version of the EURL ECVAM Search Guide, the DB-ALM information content has been updated with protocols of in vitro methods compliant with regulatory requirements and/or validated by the EURL ECVAM in the areas of Eye and Skin Irritation, Carcinogenicity and Acute Oral Toxicity and from the EU Integrated Project "ACuteTox" are available from the DB-ALM.

EU Bookshop: Second edition of the EURL ECVAM Search Guide is now available (August 2013)
Encouraged by the success of the first edition in 2012 the JRC has re-published an entirely updated version of the EURL ECVAM Search Guide. The Guide has specifically been developed to support untrained database users to find high quality information on relevant alternative strategies and methods to animal experiments in the large amount of available information resources. The Guide provides examples of search procedures, suggested search terms and user guidance. It includes descriptions of relevant resources and thesauri. A check list is moreover offered (the seven golden steps) to allow for searches in a structured and systematic way and to document them - a key part of preparing any research project in biomedical sciences and toxicology. Target users are scientists, national authorities involved in animal protection and ethical committees verifying that all possible alternatives have been considered before conducting animal experiments.
On Facebook: EU Law and publications.

EPAA Thematic Review project (January 2013)
The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) supported and sponsored the Thematic Review project. The final report from the second survey on the use of in vivo reduction and refinement methods is now finalized and it is available on the DB-ALM website.

Year 2012

Annual Report 2012 on Achievements of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), The Market Place, page 10 (December 2012)
EPAA announces that the final report from the second survey on the use of in vivo reduction and refinement methods is close to finalisation and will be made available via DB-ALM website.

DB-ALM Protocol No.71 mentioned in OECD 460 Test Guideline 'Fluorescein Leakage Test Method for Identifying Ocular Corrosives and Severe Irritants', (October 2012)

EU Bookshop (May 2012)
The ECVAM Search Guide has been published by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. The Guide has specifically been developed to inform and support untrained database users to find high quality information on relevant alternative strategies and methods to animal experiments in an easy, yet systematic, efficient and effective way. It provides search procedures, selected search terms and user guidance in addition to an inventory of relevant resources. A printed version can be ordered or an e-version downloaded free of charge from the EU Bookshop, where in June the ECVAM Search Guide was in the top 10 list of the most downloaded publications.

Year 2011

Chemical Watch (May 2011)
Announcement on the Chemical Watch website about the progress of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing's (EPAA) Thematic Review Project, with a reference to the DB-ALM Newsletter sent out from the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) Newsletter, Thematic Reviews, page 5 (March 2011)

Annual Report 2011 on Achievements of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), Platform on 3Rs In Regulation, page 5 (December 2011)

Year 2010

Annual Report 2010 on Achievements of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), Thematic Reviews, page 7 (December 2010)

ECHA Information toolkit
ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) suggests the use of ECVAM DB-ALM as a useful information source on in-vitro methods that could be considered during information gap analysis for REACH registration purposes.

The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) is implementing the 'market place' concept for the 3Rs, EPAA Newsletter, page 1 & 3 (June 2010)
One of the EPAA objectives is to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and information, bring it to those who need it, in the right format and with sufficient detail. The EPAA is building up a number of 'open stands' in the 'market place', to which belong Thematic Reviews.
The aim of these thematic reviews is to provide regulators and industry with concise, pre-digested and quality controlled information on existing alternative approaches for safety testing, and on their potential and limitations. The Thematic Review for Reproductive Toxicity Testing, one of the two topics that have been identified as legislative priorities was sponsored by EPAA and carried out with the direct involvement of the DB-ALM. The project was finalized in 2012. The results are available through the following link.

Year 2009

DB-ALM Protocol No.124 mentioned in OECD 437 Test Guideline 'Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability Test Method for Identifying Ocular Corrosives and Severe Irritants', (September 2009)

DB-ALM Protocol No.80 cited in OECD 438 Test Guideline 'Isolated Chicken Eye Test Method for Identifying Ocular Corrosives and Severe Irritants', (September 2009)
Data obtained using the above 2 protocols were successfully retrospectively validated by the US Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), later endorsed by ECVAM's Scientific Advisory Committee and finally adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Based on the outcome of the studies, a new protocol version ( DB-ALM Nº 127) has been defined in compliance with the OECD Test Guideline No. 437 for its use as part of a tiered-testing strategy to classify substances as ocular corrosives or severe irritants without further testing in rabbits.

Disseminating 3Rs Information, Presentation at the EPAA Annual Conference (December 2009)

Year 2008

'Dissemination Strategies: How Do They Influence the Uptake of New Three Rs Methods Across Laboratories and Other Boundaries?', A Report of a Workshop held by the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA) 36(4), 453-458 (September 2008)

European Commission: Commissioner for Research Janez Potocnik's Dossier (2004-2009)

Red Iberoamericana de Toxicología y Seguridad Química (November 2008)

National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government, page L2 (June 2008)

Cosmetics &Toiletries (May 2008)

Pain and Distress Report, Volume 8, page 4 (January 2008)

European Commission: DG Environment, Protection of Laboratory Animals

Year 2007

Animal Welfare Information Centre Bulletin, Vol. 13/ Nr.1-2, page 14 (Summer 2007)

Good Medicine Magazine (USA), Vol. XVI / Nr. 2 (Spring 2007)

CORDIS focus Newsletter - Community Research & Development Information Service, page 9 (January 2007)

Alternatives to Animal Testing, Wikipedia

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster - Forschung -SAFIR (D)

NCA - Netherlands Centre Alternatives to Animal Use (NL) (March 2007)

Year 2006

Is animal testing necessary or useful? The debate goes on... (December 2006)

Dr. Hadwen Trust (UK) (December 2006)

ALTEX - Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten (November 2006)

Academy for Animal Welfare - Akademie für Tierschutz (D) (October 2006)

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Collaborations

The main collaborators and related projects of DB-ALM are listed hereafter.
Software Developments
Consortium ONE4EU c/o UNYSIS, BE
ECOH MEDIA S.r.l. , I
REGGIANI S.p.A, I
TERMA Elektronik S.r.l., I, DK

Data Collection & Related Activities
Akademie für Tierschutz, Deutscher Tierschutzbund, D
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Institut d'Investigaciones Biomèdiques de Barcelona, E
Expertrådet AB, SE
EU Integrated Projects members (ACuteTox, ReProTect)
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), D
Forschungs und Beratungsinstitut Gefahrstoffe (FoBiG) GmbH, D
Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME), UK
Indexing Associates, USA
International Validation Projects members

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri", I

National Library of Medicine, USA
Publication Office of the European Union (OPOCE), LU
TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, NL

Collaborations & Advisory Boards
DB-ALM has had its own Advisory Board during its establishment to which belonged representatives from Utrecht University (NL), FRAME (UK), BfR-ZEBET (D) and the University of Graz (A).
The progress of establishing and maintaining the DB-ALM has been monitored by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC), known today as the EURL ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee.
The Thematic Review project on Reproductive Toxicity has been sponsored by the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to animal testing (EPAA).
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