Animal testing alternatives focus of new VUB centre


A new centre devoted to the development of alternatives to animal testing has opened on the VUB campus

Pioneers in field

The Free University of Brussels (VUB) has established the Innovation Centre 3Rs (IC-3Rs) to develop alternative techniques to testing on animals. The new centre is being run by the In Vitro Toxicology and Dermato-cosmetology department (IVTD).

The department has been developing alternative methods to test toxins for the past 25 years. IVTD is led by professor Vera Rogiers, a pioneer in alternatives to animal testing.

The 3Rs in the name of the new centre refers to the general aim in the scientific world to Refine, Reduce and Replace animal testing. IVDT develops alternative methods on the basis of stem cells derived from tissue.

The stem cells are cultivated from human skin. Using in-vitro technology, they are converted into liver cells, which researchers can use to determine toxicity risks of new drugs.

The goal of IC-3Rs is to “increase the visibility of alternative methods by enhancing communication, building the local networks and supporting the development of in-vitro methodologies, throughout the Belgian region and Europe,” said VUB in a statement.

Brussels state secretary for animal welfare, Bianca Debaets, responded enthusiastically to the initiative. “I hope we can further expand this centre together with Flanders and Wallonia,” she said.

An inaugural symposium is being held at the centre on 25 September focusing on the alternative methods developed at VUB.
Photo courtesy Pixabay

Free University of Brussels (VUB)

The VUB was established as a spin-off of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles in the 1960s. It’s an internationally oriented and liberal institution, and the only Dutch-speaking university in the capital.
Work - The VUB is the largest Dutch-speaking employer of the Brussels-Capital Region.
St V - Every year, students honour university founder Pierre Theodore Verhaegen in a festive, booze-filled “St V” march through the city.
Campus - The VUB is the only Dutch-speaking university with a small, American-style green campus.

Master’s programmes offered


million euros in research budget in 2010

12 000

students in 2011-2012 academic year