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.
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School)
Charlotte Blattner (Harvard Law School, Animal Law & Policy Program)
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.
TPI.tv: improving science through animal-free innovations and research
Introducing TPI.tv : a video platform by experts striving to improve science through animal-free innovations and research.
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.
Human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for disease modelling and drug discovery
Berend van Meer did his PhD research in the research group of prof. Christine Mummery at the department of Anatomy and Embryology of the Leiden University Medical Center. In this group, human pluripotent stem cell derived (Organ-on-Chip) models are being developed, mostly cardiovascular models. The work of Berend aimed to understand how well these stem cell based cardiac models can predict the effect of (well-known) drug therapies in patients. Importantly, the outcomes of the experiments were compared to very similar measurements in rabbit heart muscle cells. And while animal models predicted less than 70% correctly, the human stem cell based models predicted almost 80% of the expected effects correctly. The research contributes to understanding the relevance of stem cell based models and strengthens the confidence regulators and pharmaceutical companies have in such models as animal alternatives in the drug development pipeline. Berend van Meer has won the Hugo van Poelgeest prize 2020 for his research on human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for disease modelling and drug discovery. Christine Mummery's lab on Heart on Chip, Disease modeling and toxicity: https://www.lumc.nl/org/anatomie-embryologie/research/902040935402533/
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wim de Leeuw: Aim and activities of TPI Utrecht
TPI Utrecht facilitates the Utrecht infrastructure to stimulate the transition to animal-free innovation. There is a helpdesk, a group of ambassadors, and a 3Rs Stimulus Fund. A digital marketplace for exchange of tissues is being developed, and as well a hybrid centre for biomedical translation, where there will increasingly be place for animal-free techniques.
Human neuronal cell models for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment
Anke Tukker was a PhD candidate in the Neurotoxicology Research group of Dr. Remco Westerink at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University. Dr Westerink’s research group investigates the mechanisms of action of toxic substances on a cellular and molecular level using in vitro systems. Anke's project aimed to develop a human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neuronal model for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment. Using micro-electrode arrays (MEAs), she showed that these models mimic in vivo neuronal network activity. When these hiPSC-derived neurons are mixed with hiPSC-derived astrocytes, they can be used for in vitro seizure liability assessment. Comparing these data with data obtained from the current used model of ex vivo rodent cortical cultures, she found that these human cells outperform the rodent model. Here research thus contributes towards animal-free neurotoxicity testing. Anke Tukker has won the public vote of the Hugo van Poelgeest prize 2020 for her research on human neuronal cell models for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment. Neurotoxicology Research Group, IRAS, Utrecht University: https://ntx.iras.uu.nl/NTX_at_Iras
Kirsten Baken (VITO)
Kirsten Baken (VITO, www.vito.be) discusses biomonitoring as part of the HBM4EU project (www.hbm4eu.eu). An example of the use of human biomarkers can be found at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119302658 .
Sign in for Helpathon #3: Daniela Salvatori
Daniela Salvatori calls for a Helpathon! She invites you to help her and TPI Utrecht to create a unique master course for animal free innovation. You can sign in for this Helpathon here: tpihelpathon.nl. Online, 18th - 19th of June 2020.
Helpathon #4 - can you help Raissa?
Can you help Raissa find a more complex organoid-like brain and immune model based on rhesus microglia to study aging in relation to neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases? Join Helpathon #4, look at www.tpihelpathon.nl/coming-up ! Raissa Timmerman is a PhD student at the alternative unit at the Biomedical Primate Research Center. A better understanding of aging of the brain is key to studying neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. We believe there is a potential for breakthrough in using our existing live macaque data obtained from past aging experiments to develop more complex in vitro rhesus brain-like models and then to correlate all this data with data from human in vitro models and human live data.