Experts

The 3Rs Centre Utrecht: connecting the 3Rs and the NAMs
Expert interviews
Innovation

The 3Rs Centre Utrecht: connecting the 3Rs and the NAMs

This animation of the 3Rs Centre Utrecht shows the differences, but also the similarities, between the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement of animal testing) approach and the NAMs (New Approach Methodologies) approach when trying to replace or reduce experimental animal use.
02:352 months ago
Stichting Proefdiervrij: Collaboration is key
Expert interviews
HealthInnovationPolicy

Stichting Proefdiervrij: Collaboration is key

At Stichting Proefdiervrij (the Dutch society for the replacement of animal testing) we believe that collaboration is essential for the development and implementation of animal-free models. In this video we introduce a few of the ways in which we, as an NGO, collaborate with researchers to reach our goal: the complete replacement of all test on animals
02:0723 months ago
Monique Janssens (personal account): Why we need the Transition towards Animal-free Innovations
Expert interviews
HelpathonsPolicy

Monique Janssens (personal account): Why we need the Transition towards Animal-free Innovations

Why is there a Transition towards Animal-free Innovations, while we have the 3Rs, including Replacement? Well, there is a difference. Animal experiments should no longer be the golden standard of reference. We should not ask: Is this animal-free method good enough to replace animal experiments? But: What is the research question, and how do I get the best answer, preferably without animals? I know that many researchers are doing this already. But we can do even more! It’s also about involving the full chain of parties, including patients, financers, legislators and companies. That is why the transition movement works with interdisciplinary networks and Helpathons. The transition helps to innovate, to accelerate and to implement. At the same time, there is no need to throw the 3Rs overboard. Actually, we owe applying them to the lab animals of today. But by innovating we can develop even more new practices in research and education that bring about better results for science in less time and often with less costs. Without using animals.
02:372 years ago
Daniela Salvatori: TPI Utrecht
Expert interviews
HealthEducation

Daniela Salvatori: TPI Utrecht

Prof. dr. Daniela Salvatori, chair of TPI Utrecht, presents the aims of the local TPI group and invites all who want to share their ideas or questions on the transition towards animal-free innovations to get in touch via uu.nl/tpi.
02:233 years ago

Innovations

Stem cell derived Vessels-on-Chip to study brain disorders
Innovation examples
HealthIn vitroOrgan-on-Chip

Stem cell derived Vessels-on-Chip to study brain disorders

Dennis Nahon is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anatomy and Embryology at the Leiden University Medical Center. In his research, under supervision of Dr. Valeria Orlova (https://www.orlovalab.com/) and Prof. Dr. Christine Mummery, he aims to mimic a blood vessel in the brain by combining different stem cell derived cell types, in a 3D Vessel-on-Chip model. Here, an example of these in vitro blood vessels is shown in which certain brain cells known as astrocytes (in white) interact with the blood vessels (in red). This model paves the way for investigating brain vessels outside the human body, while reducing the need for animal models.
01:532 months ago
 From 2D hiPSC culture to developing a 3D vessel-on-chip
Innovation examples
In vitroOrgan-on-Chip

From 2D hiPSC culture to developing a 3D vessel-on-chip

Theano Tsikari is a 2nd year PhD student at the Orlova group at LUMC. As part of the LymphChip consortium, her project focuses on the development of immunocompetent organ-on-chip models of the cardiovascular system, and especially the integration of tissue-resident macrophages and lymphatic vasculature using human induced pluripotent stem cells. In this video, you can follow her as she presents you the backbone of her project, a 3D hiPSC-derived vessel-on-chip model, that has been previously developed in the Orlova group and can be employed for the generation of advanced in vitro models of vascular diseases.
01:292 months ago
Unified organoid system for modeling heart and kidney interaction on-a-chip
Innovation examples
In vitroOrgan-on-Chip

Unified organoid system for modeling heart and kidney interaction on-a-chip

Beatrice Gabbin is a PhD candidate at the Anatomy and Embryology Department of the Leiden University Medical Center. Her project is shared with the Nephrology Department and focusses on the study of the cardiorenal axis in vitro. Both heart and kidneys have vital functions in the human body and reciprocally influence each other’s behavior: pathological changes in one can damage the other. There are already multiple independent in vitro (human) models of heart and kidney, but none have so far captured their dynamic crosstalk. The aim of the project is therefore to develop a microfluidic system which can be used to study heart and kidney interaction in vitro. For this purpose, cardiac microtissues and kidney organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells are generated and loaded onto a 3D perfusion chip for their dynamic co-culture. This system enables the study the cardiac and kidney interaction with a high level of control. The validation of a unified organoid system will enable the investigation of diseases involving the two organs and their potential treatments. Read more via the link in the video and https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtbio.2023.100818.
01:362 months ago
Modelling COVID-19-induced thrombosis using blood-perfused Vessels-on-Chips
Innovation examples
HealthIn vitroOrgan-on-Chip

Modelling COVID-19-induced thrombosis using blood-perfused Vessels-on-Chips

A subset of hospitalized COVID-19 patients develops severe symptoms like microthrombosis and multiple organ-failure, worsening survival rates. The most inner layer of cells of a blood vessel, the endothelial cells, play a central role in the development of these complications. Their dysfunction can be replicated in advanced cell culture models like our blood-perfused Vessel-on-Chip to further understand disease mechanisms. In this short highlight, Huub Weener from the University of Twente shows how the technique works and what these models contribute to our knowledge of COVID-19.
02:012 months ago

Questions

Helpathon #10 – Can you help Jolanda and Elza?
Questions
HelpathonsEducation

Helpathon #10 – Can you help Jolanda and Elza?

Jolanda van der Velden, Chair of Physiology, and Elza van Deel, Educator, from Amsterdam University Medical Center want to support PhDs in preparing for the animal-free transition. They are both looking for an implementation strategy and course design. Do you have an interest in animal-free education and education about animal-free research? Read more and register here (https://www.helpathonhotel.org/coming-up).
00:555 months ago
Helpathon #9 – Can you help Juan?
Questions
HealthInnovationIn vitro

Helpathon #9 – Can you help Juan?

Juan is an experienced immunologist and scientific director of the cutting edge O2Flow facility for cytometry and cell sorting at the Amsterdam VU University Medical Center. Can you help Juan explore if and how he can transition his facility towards animal free antibodies? Are you using antibodies in your research do you want others to help you find animal free alternatives for your specific research let us know. More information can be found [here] (https://www.helpathonhotel.org/coming-up).
02:0211 months ago
 Helpathon #8 – Can you help Margot?
Questions
HealthInnovationIn vitro

Helpathon #8 – Can you help Margot?

Margot Beukers is the LymphChip program manager. Can you help Margot bring the field forward by sharing your experience with animal-free alternatives for Foetal Calf Serum and Matrigel? Click on the link in the video to sign up and read more information on this Helpathon on the website (https://www.helpathonhotel.org/coming-up).
01:0316 months ago
Helpathon #8 – Can you help Jasper?
Questions
HealthInnovationIn vitro

Helpathon #8 – Can you help Jasper?

Jasper Koning is doing research on skin diseases. He believes it must be possible to find an alternative to Foetal Calf Serum to grow immune cells. Can you help him find alternatives to Foetal Calf Serum so he can build human models animal free? Jasper is especially looking for researchers with practical experience in applying alternatives. He did some trials himself with mixed results. Click on the link in the video to sign up and read more information on this Helpathon on the website (https://www.helpathonhotel.org/coming-up).
01:1616 months ago

Projects and initiatives

EURL ECVAM
Projects and initiatives
HealthInnovationPolicy

EURL ECVAM

The EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) promotes and facilitates the use of non-animal methods in testing and research. It validates, disseminates and shares knowledge on the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experiments). In this video, Raffaella Corvi explains what EURL ECVAM does in the field of safety testing of chemicals while reducing laboratory animal testing. Watch the accessible version of the video here (https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-230374). ©European Union, 2021
02:3352 days ago
Cells4Thought: using iPSCs for neurodevelopmental health
Projects and initiatives
HealthToxicologyInnovationIn vitro

Cells4Thought: using iPSCs for neurodevelopmental health

The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), including cognitive impairments, is increasing worldwide with great impact on daily life quality. There is evidence that exposure to chemicals may contribute to the incidence of NDD. However, a causal link is lacking. Towards this goal, a human-relevant in vitro model system mimicking parts of brain development, such as neuronal network functioning, could be used for mechanistic research on how gene-environment interactions contribute to the development of NDD. This is going to be studied in the project Cells4Thought, using induced pluripotent stem cells form different individuals to study the effect of chemicals on neuronal differentiation.
02:383 months ago
We all want a safer world for humanity, animals and the environment: Transition Animal-free Innovation
Projects and initiatives
HealthInnovationPolicyBeginner

We all want a safer world for humanity, animals and the environment: Transition Animal-free Innovation

Why is the transition to animal-free research so important? What are animal-free models? How does TPI (Transition Animal-Free Innovation) encourage their development and use? And who are we working with to make this happen? We explain this in our animation. More and more animal-free tests and research methods are becoming available, but not all research questions or safety tests can be answered in this way yet. In addition, the validation, qualification and acceptance of non-animal innovations still lags behind. Therefore, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) stimulates the development and application of animal-free innovations. This is done with the partner programme Transition Animal-free Innovation (TPI).
02:485 months ago
VitalTissue: scientific research can be more human(e)
Projects and initiatives
HealthInnovationIn vitro

VitalTissue: scientific research can be more human(e)

The goal of VitalTissue is to facilitate the availability of vital human residual tissue for all researchers in the Netherlands. This video shows how VitalTissue works. From a request from a researcher, the donation of the residual tissue by the patient and the transport to the lab. This process is the result of a feasibility study conducted with many stakeholders. The national tissue bank ETB-BISLIFE will implement VitalTissue in practice.
04:2111 months ago

Meetings & conferences

ONTOX Hackathon: Hack To Save Lives And Avoid Animal Suffering
Meetings & conferences
HelpathonsHealthToxicologyIn silico

ONTOX Hackathon: Hack To Save Lives And Avoid Animal Suffering

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in toxicology – a potential driver for reducing or replacing laboratory animals in the future. ONTOX project is looking for solutions and innovative ideas to move forward. Are you going to help ONTOX to hack into these complex challenges? The hackathon will be held from 21 to 23 April 2024 in Utrecht Science Park. The whole event is open to a diverse community of forward-thinkers and problem-solvers interested in the intersection of AI and ethical toxicology. The goal is to bring together passionate individuals who seek innovative solutions to critical challenges in toxicology. Read more about the hackathon and register here (https://ontox-project.eu/hackathon/).
01:045 months ago
Debate about animal testing
Meetings & conferences
HealthInnovationPolicy

Debate about animal testing

Animal testing contributes to advances in medicine and science in general. But in recent years people have increasingly questioned research using laboratory animals. The European Union and the Dutch government want to be a forerunner in the development and use of innovations that do not involve animal testing, but how do we want to achieve that? What are the challenges and opportunities for biomedical sciences? How do we accelerate the transition towards animal-free innovation? And what does this mean for research into better treatments for animals? In this debate Dutch leaders in the field of animal(-free) testing share their thoughts and opinions.
01:2723 months ago
Scientific solutions for the gap in translational medicine: skin model platform with melanoma (3D melanoma)
Meetings & conferences
HealthIn vitroAdvanced

Scientific solutions for the gap in translational medicine: skin model platform with melanoma (3D melanoma)

The developing process of a new drug, from first testing to regulatory approval and ultimately to market is a long, costly, and risky path. Noteworthy is the fact that almost 95% of the drugs that go into human trials fail. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 80 to 90% of drug research projects fail before they ever get tested in humans. The value of preclinical research, mainly conducted in animal model experiments for predicting the effectiveness of therapies and treatment strategies in human trials, has remained controversial. Only 6% of the animal studies are successfully translated into the human response. Breaking down failure rates by therapeutic area, oncology disorders account for 30% of all failures. The absence of human-relevant models with receptors, proteins, and drug interactions in the in situ microenvironment leaves a gap in the scientific discovery process of new therapies. In this context, the present work presents the development of a sophisticated in vitro skin model platform focus on boosting melanoma treatment. The results showed a physiological microenvironment of human skin with epidermal differentiation and development of stratified layers (basement membrane, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, and stratum corneum). Furthermore, it was observed the pathophysiological microenvironment of the melanoma with invasion or migration through the basement membrane into the dermis and no epidermal differentiation. Vemurafenib treatment, the gold standard which targets BRAF mutations, showed a decrease in proliferation and invasion of melanoma tumors, with an increase in epidermis keratinization. Melanoma incidence continues to increase year-on-year and is currently responsible for >80% of skin cancer deaths. It is the most common cutaneous form and is known to have the highest mutational load of all cancers. Nowadays, patients with advanced melanoma BRAFV600E mutation can benefit from monotherapies or targeted therapies. Although the initial response rate is effective, disease progression and tumor chemoresistance rapidly occur in the majority of patients. Therefore, the treatment of melanoma remains a challenge, and despite the advances, there is still an urgent need to identify new therapeutic strategies. 3D Model Melanoma is considered one important tool for studying the evolution of the pathology, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of new therapeutic approaches.
03:192 years ago
Optimizing CAR-T-cell therapy using 3D tumor models and real-time cell imaging
Meetings & conferences
HealthIn vitroAdvanced

Optimizing CAR-T-cell therapy using 3D tumor models and real-time cell imaging

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy accounts for one of the most promising therapeutic advances in cancer immunotherapy. In this form of adoptive cell transfer, T-cells of a patient are engineered to express so-called ‘CARs’, in which the antigen-recognition capacity of antibodies is combined with T-cell activating domains. So far, CAR-T-cell therapy obtained its most impressive results in hematological malignancies resulting in the approval of five CAR-T cell products by the FDA for hematologic indications. However, CAR-T-cell therapy has not mirrored its success in solid tumors. The poor efficacy of CAR-T-cell therapy in solid tumors has, in part, been attributed to the lack of understanding in how CAR-T-cells function in a solid tumor microenvironment. Classical validation methods rely on the use of specificity and functionality assays in 2D models against adherent target cells or target cells in suspension. Yet, by using these models, observations made in vitro may differ greatly to an in vivo situation where tumors are engrafted in 3D structures. We developed a more relevant and translational 3D tumor model using eGFP+ target cells. This allows us to couple 3D tumor cell killing by CAR-T-cells to live-cell imaging, providing an efficient quantification of target cell death. As proof- of-concept, we used a 3D model of eGFP+ glioblastoma cells and CAR-T-cells targeting a pan-cancer antigen. This 3D glioblastoma model allowed us to show that classical scFv-based CAR-T-cell therapy of glioblastoma cells can be improved by nanoCAR-T-cells. Furthermore, combining nanoCAR-T-cell therapy with a genetic approach of nanobody-based anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint blockade further increased the cytotoxicity of the nanoCAR-T-cell therapy.
03:252 years ago