In Vitro Appraisal
In vitro study designs are increasingly important in chemical risk assessment, but often poorly conducted and inadequately reported, and therefore difficult to make good use of in systematic reviews. EBTC is looking to improve this situation, by developing a tool which will help scientists identify issues with study protocols and manuscripts before they are published.
In vitro studies play an increasingly important role in chemical risk assessment, complementing and/or replacing in vivo animal studies. As systematic reviews of in vitroevidence are still scarce, the published quality of these types of studies is largely unknown.
There are clear indications, however, that there is substantial room for improvement. Attempts to improve the situation could target any of three groups:
- researchers conducting primary in vitro studies;
- editors and peer reviewers of journals publishing in vitro studies;
- authors of systematic reviews of in vitro studies.
Since there are already interventions available or being developed for target groups (1) and (3) but not (2), the goal of this EBTC project is to increase the quality (understood as “fitness-for-purpose" or "publishability") of in vitro research by developing a tool that will help ensure comprehensive and exacting peer-review of in vitro toxicology studies.
In order to strike the right balance between completeness and utility, the project takes a stepwise approach.
- First, a systematic review of existing appraisal tools and reporting standards will be conducted (the protocol for this systematic review is nearing completion). The extracted set of criteria will be categorized according to an “ideal” model of an in vitro study.
- Then, this structured set of criteria will be the starting point for a Delphi study with a range of stakeholders to whittle down the criteria to a manageable set and ensure no criteria of potential importance are missing.
- Finally, the resulting draft tool will be tested iteratively, revised on the basis of each test cycle, and once optimized will be published.
The working group conducting this project is led by Paul Whaley and Rob de Vries and consists of a broad range of experts including representatives of related initiatives such as Good Cell Culture Practice (GCCP) and Science in Risk Assessment and Policy (SciRAP)