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Investment in the interest of patients and animals

The Dutch National Growth Fund has allocated funds amounting to 124.5 million euros for a new center for animal-free biomedical research (1). Our small neighbor country is thus once again leading the way when it comes to funding innovative, human-based research without animals.

According to a report from Utrecht University, the results of animal experiments can only be transferred to humans "to a very limited extent, if at all" and in most biomedical development processes, it is only during human studies that it becomes clear that the animal experiments conducted could not predict therapeutic effects or side effects in humans. As a result, 90% of developments fail within human clinical trials (2). In the Netherlands alone, 450,000 so-called laboratory animals die each year, and the inefficient, animal-based development process unnecessarily drives up the costs of medications.

Here, human-based models offer a much better chance of success than animal experiments. The aim of the new Center for animal-free biomedical translation (Centrum voor Proefdiervrije Biomedische Translatie (CPBT)) is to develop safer and more effective treatments - completely without animal experiments. Additionally, the acceptance and utilization of animal-free biomedical innovations will be improved through training and consultancy. This will involve not only academic partners but also the pharmaceutical industry. Initially, the center will focus on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Cystic Fibrosis, Osteoarthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Asthma/Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The CPBT is an initiative of Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The initiative has a large number of public and private partners. Overall, the CPBT will accelerate the transition to animal-free research and testing and enhance the competitiveness of the Netherlands. Thus, research at the CPBT will not only reduce animal experiments but also bring significant economic and societal benefits.

Professor Wouter Dhert from Utrecht University and University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht, one of the initiators of the CPBT, commented: "It is great news that the government has now decided to really invest in this important transition (1)."

The funding of the CPBT demonstrates that the Netherlands continues to be a pioneer in phasing out animal experiments and can further expand its lead over Germany. While the Netherlands invests a three-digit million amount in a single center explicitly dedicated to animal-free methods, Germany continues to adhere to the animal research with an estimated funding of 3R (Replace, Reduce, Refine) research of just a few millions (3).