3Rs Information - Alternatives

EURL ECVAM non-animal models

The European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL-ECVAM) has launched a series of studies to review available and emerging non-animal models being used for research, which will eventually cover seven disease areas. The disease areas currently available are:

Respiratory tract diseases
Breast cancer
Neurodegenerative disease

Galleria mellonella - a novel infection model for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex

A study has reported that the larvae of the wax moth Galleria mellonella, can be used as a novel model for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. This can potentially be used as a replacement to certain vertebrate models of the disease. This research was partially funded by an NC3Rs PhD scholarship.


Production of human blood vessel organoids

Scientists have for the first time grown functioning human blood vessel organoids from stem cells in the lab. The results from this study have been published in Nature and offers researchers the possibility of studying vascular disorders in a non-animal alternative model.


EURL ECVAM recommendation on non-animal-derived antibodies

Every year in the EU, close to one million animals are used for antibody generation and production despite the availability of technologies that do not necessitate the use of animals. Not only is this number extremely high but the procedures employed can cause severe suffering. In 2020, EURL ECVAM issued a recommendation on the use of animals for antibody development and production, which is based on the opinion of EURL ECVAM’s Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC). This recommendation states that animals should no longer be used for the development and production of antibodies for research, regulatory, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. It also challenges misconceptions existing in the scientific community about non-animal-derived antibodies and highlights the scientific and economic benefits of their use. The recommendation proposes concrete actions for key actors including end-users, commercial providers, authorities, research funding bodies and journal editors. This document is essential reading for establishments that currently use animals for the production of antibodies.


Cell-based assay for botulinum neurotoxin Type B

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed a new cell-based assay to test the quality and safety of pharmaceutical botulinum neurotoxin without the use of animals. Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are produced by Clostridium bacteria and are used by healthcare professionals to treat neuromuscular spasms. However, before going out to the clinic, each batch of BoNTs undergoes rigorous potency, quality and safety testing. This most commonly involves a mouse lethality assay (LD50 test). The researchers, in collaboration with the NC3Rs, have developed an alternative in vitro immunoassay to test BoNT Serotype B. The researchers showed that the new test is more sensitive than the mouse bioassay. Such developments are very welcome and it is important that all parties involved work towards the adoption of such alternative methods to significantly reduce the number of animals used in these types of assays.


European Commission conference: ‘Non-animal approaches – the way forward’

The European Commission held an engaging scientific conference in December of 2016 on alternatives to animal testing. We recommend viewing the website which contains links to the conference report, as well as the presentations and video recordings.


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