Zebrafish in toxicity testing
Zebrafish are increasingly recognised as a useful model for toxicity testing of chemical substances. Testing strategies are becoming more based on mechanisms of toxicity structured in adverse outcome pathways describing the chain of events leading to toxicity or disease. Using a battery of dedicated in vitro and in silico assays, insight can be gained in how exposure leads to disease. For certain diseases it is known that toxicity relies on the interaction between different organs and cell types, which requires research on whole organisms in addition to simple in vitro models. The zebrafish is considered a valuable whole organism model in a mechanism-based testing strategy. At RIVM, the zebrafish embryo model is used for testing the effect of chemical substances on several adverse outcomes and diseases. For more information see: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP9888; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136717; www.linkedin.com/in/harm-heusinkveld
Cartilage-on-a-chip for studying joint degenerative diseases
Carlo Alberto Paggi is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Twente in the research group of Prof. Marcel Karperien and Prof. Séverine Le Gac. Karperien’s lab focus on the biological aspects of osteoarthritic research while Le Gac’s specialize in organ-on-chip development. The project of Carlo Alberto is developing a joint-on-chip platform to create a reliable in vitro model to study disease progression in osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis. The model combines different organ-on-chips aimed at replicating each a tissue around the joint such as cartilage, bone and ligaments. This new technology focuses on better reproducing human models and at substituting the use of animal models for drug research. If you want to know something more about the project and the groups, you can follow the link in the video. Carlo Paggi was nominated for the Hugo van Poelgeest prize for his research on a cartilage-on-a-chip model to study joint degenerative diseases Karperien’s lab of Developmental Bioengineering: https://www.utwente.nl/en/tnw/dbe/ Le Gac’s lab of Applied Microfluidics for BioEngineering Research: http://www.severinelegac.com/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlo-alberto-paggi-76500b135/
Respiratory toxicity using in vitro methods
The airways form a barrier for inhaled compounds, however, such compounds may cause local effects in the airways or may lead to lung diseases, such as fibrosis or COPD. Cell models of the respiratory tract, cultured at the air-liquid-interface (ALI) are a relevant model to assess the effects of inhaled compounds on the airways. Such models allow human relevant exposure, which is via the air, and assessment of effects on the epithelial cell layer. At RIVM we use air-liquid-interface cultured cell models and expose these to airborne compounds to assess the effects of agents such as nanomaterials, air pollutants or compounds from cigarette smoke. By using a mechanism-based approach to assess the effects of these compounds we invest in animal-free alternatives that better predict adverse effects in humans.
Animal-free computational modelling for prevention of human chemical-induced neural tube defects
Animal-free methods for human chemical safety assessment are promising tools for the reduction of animal testing. However, these methods only measure a small aspect of biology compared to an in vivo test. The reductionist nature of these methods thus limits their individual application in the regulatory arena of chemical risk assessment. Ontologies can be used to describe human biology, and delineate the basis of adverse outcome pathway networks that describe how chemical exposures may lead to adverse health effects. This pathway description can then help to select animal-free in vitro and in silico methods, comprehensively covering the network. The comprehensiveness of this approach, firmly rooted in human biology, is expected to facilitate regulatory acceptance of animal-free methods. As an example, this video zooms in on the development of a computational model for neural tube development, an aspect of human development that is especially vulnerable to chemical disruption. This research is part of the ONTOX project (https://www.ontox-project.eu). For more information on the concept of the Virtual Human, click here (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cotox.2019.03.009.).
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.
Transition beyond animal welfare
This video explains what the programme TPI (Transition Programme for Innovation without the use of animals) is about.
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School)
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School, Animal Law & Policy Program)
Glenn Embrechts (European Schoolnet)
Skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are becoming an increasingly important part of basic literacy in today's knowledge economy. European Schoolnet is at the forefront of the debate on how to attract more people to science and technology to address the future skills gap that Europe is facing. STEM is one of European Schoolnet's major thematic domains. We have been involved in more than 30 STEM education initiatives, financed through European Schoolnet's Ministry of Education members, industry partners, or by the European Union's funding programmes. More information on social media: Social media: https://m.facebook.com/labonderwijs and https://www.instagram.com/lab_gedrevenonderwijs/ .
Tony Kiuru (UPM Biomedicals)
Tony Kiuru discusses GrowDex, which is an animal free, ready to use hydrogel that mimics the extracellular matrix (ECM) and supports cell growth and differentiation with consistent results. Bridging the gap between in vitro and in vivo studies GrowDex can be used for 3D cell culture for spheroid and /organoids, in personalised medicine, regenerative medicine, organ-on-a-chip models, drug release studies, 3D printing and much more. GrowDex hydrogel is manufactured according to ISO13485. You can find more information about GrowDex at https://www.upmbiomedicals.com/siteassets/documents/growdex-brochure-2018.pdf and https://www.linkedin.com/company/growdex/ . General email address: email@example.com.
Avatar Zoo - teaching animal anatomy using virtual reality
Animals are essential to train the next generation of scientists understand diseases and develop treatments for humans as well as animals. Therefore, animals are used for educational purposes. Technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be employed to reduce the number of animals in the future. Prof. Dr. Daniela Salvatori is working on the development of 'Avatar Zoo' together with UMCU and IT. Live animals are replaced by holographic 3D in this flexible platform. With these holograms one is able to study the anatomical, physiological and pathological systems and processes of all kinds of animals. Avatar Zoo won the Venture Challenge 2021 for the development of virtual reality models that can be used for anatomy classes and practical training.
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.
Setting up a PDXO platform of pancreatic cancer with spatial -omics characterization
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is known for its aggressive biology and lethality. Due to a low success rate of current diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in clinic, there is an urgent need for preclinical research studies to investigate the underlying biology of this malignancy. This knowledge is indispensable to facilitate the development and validation of potential new therapeutic compounds. Superior to conventional biomedical research models, the focus of this study is on the development and use of a well-established patient-derived 3D in vivo model, mimicking the tumor as it is present in a human body. The development and characterization of pancreatic cancer derived organoids. This model is extensively analysed using advanced histological methods omics technology to perform tumor subtyping. 15 established PDAC organoid lines and their corresponding parental tumors are validated using immunostainings and DNA hotspot sequencing. This study is the first to show in situ detection of important driver mutations of pancreatic cancer, like KrasG12D, both in parental tumor and organoids. Additionally, specific culture conditions are defined to develop subtype-specific organoids which are validated using multiplex RNA in situ hybridization and transcriptomics. We are proud to collaborate in a fruitful international project, aiming to set-up a pre-clinical screening platform for pancreatic cancer based on patient-derived organoids -and xenografts. Altogether, spatial-omics in depth analysis of both models will demonstrate (1) high resemblance to parental tissue and (2) subtype-specific signatures associated with type of model. Ultimately, the screening platform can be used by pharmaceutical companies to facilitate oncological drug testing in a subtype specific way. Publications Ilse Rooman's lab: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34330784/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31161208/