Laboratory animal use in Belgium

Each year, more than 500.000 laboratory animals are used in Belgium for various scientific and educational purposes. However, the use of laboratory animals is challenged due to ethical, economic and scientific concerns. Moreover, the legislation on the use of laboratory animals has become more stringent over the past years. According to EU Directive 2010/63, animals may only be used for scientific or educational purposes if no alternative is available. This directive was transposed into the Belgian Royal Decree (RD) on the protection of laboratory animals (29 May 2013). This RD is the responsibility of the Animal Welfare Departments, and is implemented on a regional level. In order to better comply with this legislation, the RE-Place project has been initiated.

Aim of the RE-Place project

Over the past years, much progress has been made in the field of alternative methods to animal testing [recently often referred to as 'New Approach Methodologies (NAMs)'] and many valuable in chemico, in silico and in vitro methods have been developed. However, the existing knowledge concerning these methods is extremely scattered and there is insufficient communication between the different laboratories. The RE-Place project aims to centralize the expertise present in the Flemish and Brussels regions in a database and make it more accessible to the general public. This database can evolve into a broader platform where researchers can connect with peers and possible partners in order to initiate new collaborations. In a later stage, the RE-Place database can also be integrated and/or expanded with new and/or existing databases.

Which methods does RE-Place want to collect?

 All ‘New Approach Methodologies’ that can contribute to the reduction and replacement of the total number of laboratory animals!

This includes:

  • In vitro and ex vivo methods (e.g. cell lines and tissue cultures);
  • In silico methods (e.g. QSARs [Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship] and read-across);
  • In chemico methods (e.g. assays evaluating the reactivity and properties of substances or components);
  • Experiments with invertebrates (e.g. fruit flies and flatworms);
  • Imaging techniques for animals (e.g. CT-scans [Computed Tomography] and MRI-scans [Magnetic Resonance Imaging]);
  • High-throughput testing strategies and omics techniques (e.g. genomics, metabolomics, proteomics and transcriptomics);
  • Other innovative techniques (e.g. organ-on-a-chip);

Examples of NAMs

In industry

  • Application of human stem cell-derived myocardial cells in the safety evaluation of medicines in development  - Ivan Kopljar (Janssen Farmaceutica) Download here (979.63 KB)
  • Eye irritation: the comparison of different alternative methods - An Van Rompay (VITO) Download here (1.79 MB)

 

In biomedical research

  • "State-of-the-art' of in vitro models to replace animal testing - Bart Landuyt (KU Leuven) Download here (1020.99 KB)
  • Alternative models for screening of (re)myelination in the central nervous systemTim Vanmierlo (UHasselt) Download here (1.11 MB)
  • Alternatives and new models in neurobiological research Liesbeth Aerts (VIB / KU Leuven) Download here (1.69 MB)

 

In toxicology

  • The current status of validated 3R alternative methods - Vera Rogiers (VUB) Download here (1.08 MB)
  • Mechanistic toxicology as a starting point for non-animal methodologies - Mathieu Vinken (VUB) Download here (990.42 KB)
  • Genotoxicity: in vitro methods and potential alternatives for in vivo research Luc Verschaeve (Sciensano) Download here (1.51 MB)
  • Prediction of acute and chronic thyroid toxicity in early life stages of the zebrafish - Dries Knapen (UAntwerpen) Download here (6.96 MB)