Accelerate the transition to animal-free research

The National Growth Fund reserves EUR 125 million for a new Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation to accelerate the transition to animal-free research over the next ten years. This could lead to safer, more effective and better treatments with less animal suffering. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is one of the initiators.

The Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation (CPBT) is planning to accelerate the transition to animal-free biomedical innovations. This should offer economic and social benefits: improved medicines and fewer animal tests.

Poor predictor and expensive development

Often, the results obtained from animal experiments can only be translated to humans to a limited extent, if at all. In nine out of ten biomedical development pathways, it was only during studies with patients that animal experiments failed to show a therapeutic effect in humans. This increases the cost of developing new medicines by billions and causes unnecessary animal suffering. Every year, 450,000 animal tests are conducted in the Netherlands alone. This number has not decreased over the last ten years.

New center for revolutionary change

Together with a large number of national and international parties, the CPBT is planning to create a center for the development and dissemination of animal-free innovations and expertise. In first instance, the CPBT will focus on transition trajectories dealing with ALS and Cystic Fibrosis. The CPBT is planning to implement the developed methods, tools, and expertise together with researchers and industry partners. The new center wants to offer education, training, advice, and support to enhance the acceptance and use of animal-free biomedical innovations. The CPBT will become an integrated program that accelerates the transition to animal-free and will strengthen the Netherlands' earning capacity.

Social and economic impact

Prof. Wouter Dhert, part of the strategic theme Life Sciences at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht, and one of the initiators of the CPBT, says: “We are very proud that the Growth Fund reserves money for this wonderful initiative and we will adjust our plans in the coming period, so that we can really get started. If we show that economic added value is linked to a better translation of biomedical innovation for patients or consumers, resulting in fewer laboratory animals, the Netherlands will secure a unique leading position globally.”

Co-initiator Prof. Daniela Salvatori, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University, explains: “There is a significant global need to reduce the number of laboratory animals. For instance, consider the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 recently signed by President Biden, which paves the way for new drugs to enter the market without animal testing. Much is happening! It is therefore crucial to prepare our professionals with sound education and training.”

VirtualRealityTraining Centre

A Virtual Reality Training Centre will be realized. This will allow professionals to receive training in comparative anatomy/physiology and acquire skills for performing clinical procedures required in innovative drug developments being realized (e.g. intradiscal injections).

The VRTC will provide an innovative training environment for learning 3D anatomy and spine-related procedures based on technologies in the VR spectrum. We will create a digital 3D learning environment for dedicated active and collaborative learning with endless possibilities for asynchronous (24/7) and remote learning. It will provide a safe and authentic learning environment where personalized learning is supported by specific feedback. The VRTC platform offers a fully interactive 3D projection ("avatar" or holographic) of an anatomical model in which all structures (bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels, nerves, etc.) are annotated, and visibility can be changed to show underlying structures.
As partners, Aryzon and Aryzon.World will help with their expertise in both the headsets as well as the proper implementation of the multi-user no-code XR platform. We advise and co-create on the educational framework and requirements from the technology side.

About the Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation

The Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation (CPBT) is an initiative of Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, Hogeschool Utrecht, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The initiative has a large number of public and private partners. The growth fund proposal was submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality.

Original article University of Utrecht

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