From in vivo to in vitro: The medical device testing paradigm shift

Dayna Kerecman Myers, Alan M. Goldberg, Albrecht Poth, Michael F. Wolf, Joseph Carraway, James McKim, Kelly P. Coleman, Richard Hutchinson, Ronald Brown, Harald F. Krug, Anthony Bahinski, Thomas Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amid growing efforts to advance the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of animals in research, there is a growing recognition that in vitro testing of medical devices can be more effective, both in terms of cost and time, and also more reliable than in vivo testing. Although the technological landscape has evolved rapidly in support of these concepts, regulatory acceptance of alternative testing methods has not kept pace. Despite the acceptance by regulators of some in vitro tests (cytotoxicity, gene toxicity, and some hemocompatibility assays), many toxicity tests still rely on animals (irritation, sensitization, acute toxicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity), even where other industrial sectors have already abandoned them. Bringing about change will require a paradigm shift in current approaches to testing - and a concerted effort to generate better data on risks to human health from exposure to leachable chemicals from medical devices, and to boost confidence in the use of alternative methods to test devices. To help advance these ideas, stir debate about best practices, and coalesce around a roadmap forward, the JHU-Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) hosted a symposium believed to be the first gathering dedicated to the topic of in vitro testing of medical devices. Industry representatives, academics, and regulators in attendance presented evidence to support the unique strengths and challenges associated with the approaches currently in use as well as new methods under development, and drew next steps to push the field forward from their presentations and discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-500
Number of pages22
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • In vitro testing
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Refinement
  • Skin sensitization
  • Threshold of toxicological concern (TTC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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