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.


New and innovative technologies continue to be developed across the life sciences. In recent years computer modelling, artificial intelligence, sophisticated cell cultures, organ-on-a-chip and many more technologies have tremendously advanced. These technologies are also referred to as “New Approach Methodologies (NAMs)”.

In regulatory toxicology, NAMs are successfully applied for different endpoints, especially in the field of local toxicity, thereby resulting in the use of less or even no experimental animals. For systemic toxicity, the situation is more complex. The same is true for biomedical research, where despite the availability of cutting-edge technologies at (inter)national level, animal experimentation is needed in most cases. Nevertheless, NAMs play a very valuable role in tackling these scientific queries, both as stand-alone or when combined with animal experimentation.

As the development and practical use of NAMs are continuously evolving, it may be difficult for (young) scientists to find relevant information on NAMs. In order to facilitate access to this type of information, the Flemish government initiated the project “RE-Place” in 2017 which aims to centralize the existing expertise on NAMs in Belgium in one database. Later on, the Brussels government joined this project.

The RE-Place database will not only provide a reliable overview of different NAMs, but also the names of the experts and research centres where these techniques can be learned.