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World Day for Laboratory Animals

On 24 April 2017 is "World Day for Laboratory Animals" – the BIOPRO provides information about this topic. In Baden-Württemberg alone, up to 600,000 animals are used for scientific purposes every year. In order to reduce their pain and suffering as much as possible, researchers all over the world are working on the development of innovative methods to replace animal experiments, including cell culture methods for drug analysis, artificial blood vessel systems for testing chemicals and rapid computer simulations used in diabetes research.


The European Commission presented a proposal that aims to strengthen the protection of animals used in scientific procedures in line with the European Unions Protocol on Animal Welfare. The provisions will contribute to minimising the number of animals used in experiments.


At a meeting at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin an international expert committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development agreed on a new alternative test method involving no animal experiments to determine the irritant properties of foreign substances on the skin.


Blood vessels of a piece of pig’s intestine are used as carrier material for the IGB’s liver model and the cells seeded on the blood vessels stem from human biopsies. Dr. Johanna Schanz from the Fraunhofer IGB used this combination to produce her doctoral thesis which led to impressive results: a functional system of blood vessels in a biological carrier structure. Schanz’s outstanding thesis results have led to the creation of a liver model for testing drugs that can replace animal experiments. In 2009, the liver model was awarded two research prizes.


In cooperation with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore the University of Constance has established the Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing Europe CAAT-EU in Constance. The goal of the transatlantic cooperation is to establish new and innovative methods to replace the use of laboratory animals in studies to combine the skills of the partners to provide a better safer and more human future for humans and animals and to become a communication platform for the global agreement on the harmonisation of safety tests.


Researchers who test whether in vitro results can be transferred to living organisms prefer to use mice rats or rabbits. Many questions can be answered using the chorioallantoic membrane CAM of fertilised chicken eggs an alternative model to animal experiments that provides rapid results and only costs 50 cents per egg.


As of 2013 all cosmetic products containing a chemical with inherent skin sensitisation potential must be tested without the traditional animal testing. Prof. Dr. Stefan Martin from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Freiburg Medical Centre and his partners have been looking for alternatives to animal testing and have come up with the most specific in vitro test there has ever been. The researchers involved in the project have also been awarded a prize for their achievement by the Baden-Württemberg government.


The new directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes was adopted on 22nd September 2010 and was implemented into the German Animal Welfare Act which came into force in February 2013. These regulations have implications for companies and researchers alike. In recent years a growing number of alternative methods to animal testing have been developed. Dr. Nina Hasiwa CEO of AtaX-Advice Alternatives to animal Xperiments based in Konstanz talks in an interview with Anna Weiß for BIOPRO about the impact and possible future prospects of the new legislation.


When people breathe, not only do they inhale oxygen, but they also ingest harmful substances into the lung. Animal experiments still need to be carried out in order to assess the potential effects of air-borne pollutants, but alternatives are being sought in order to reduce the number of animal tests. In cooperation with Cultex Laboratories GmbH, Askea Feinmechanik GmbH from Amtzell has developed a cell culture reactor for conducting in vitro inhalation tests without using animals. The device is able to test the effect of air pollutants on human or bacterial cells. For example, it can be used for examining harmful effects of substances in environmental or workplace atmospheres or for other toxicological examinations.


Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy are three prominent examples of neuronal conditions (disorders affecting the nerve cells) for which drugs for treatment are intensively sought. Paolo Cesare from the NMI in Reutlingen has developed an innovative 3D system for testing drugs that does not require animal testing. In 2015, the MEAFLUIT system was awarded first prize in BioRegio STERN Management GmbH's Science2Start idea competition.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/world-day-for-laboratory-animals