Regulatory Science Magazine 10: Reduction, replacement and refinement of animal studies

This week, the newest edition of the Regulatory Science Magazine was issued. This 10th edition of the online science magazine of the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) focuses on the main topic of the annual MEB Science Day: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of Animal Studies.

In several articles the magazine looks back on the successful 2020 edition of the Science Day. In an interview, professor Roos Masereeuw (Utrecht University), one of the speakers of the Science Day, tells about her research on the development of in vitro models, replacing animal tests.

Roos Masereeuw: "As scientists, we should think carefully about how we perform tests perform them the best way possible, and if possible, use alternatives. That's what we're focussing on.

You have to start somewhere, and the Netherlands can be a frontrunner. The MEB plays a significant role within Europe EMA has relocated to the Netherlands. The more often we share our message, the better it will sink in, eventually."

Roos Masereeuw: "Als wetenschappers moeten we goed nadenken over hoe we de proef doen, het op een zo goed mogelijke manier doen, en waar mogelijk alternatieven gebruiken. Daar zijn we nu volop op aan het inzetten.

We moeten ergens beginnen, en ook daar kan Nederland heel goed een koploper in zijn. Binnen Europa speelt het CBG een belangrijke rol, de EMA is naar Nederland gekomen. Hoe vaker wij vertellen wat onze boodschap is, hoe beter het uiteindelijk beklijft."

At the MEB, also many efforts go into the 3R’s. In the second main article of the magazine, MEB assessors Peter Theunissen, Peter van Meer and Jan Willem van der Laan explain what the MEB does to reduce the use of laboratory animals. For instance, they were involved in the research and preparations that led to the adaptation of the international guideline on animal testing for reproductivity studies.

Predictive value is key in assessing the effectiveness of animal tests, and is one of the most important take home messages of the MEB Science Day 2020. “When attempting to identify the best model, we should always base our choices on that”, summarizes Masereeuw.

Peter van Meer: "You don't want animal testing if you don't learn from it. We're examining what we've learned from it in the past.
When you find that you don't learn much from animal testing that seems like the perfect time to stop. It would be great if we discovered this today and tomorrow everyone stops. But these things take years. The United States, Japan, but also the pharmaceutical industry they all have to be convinced of our view that animal testing has no added value."

Peter van Meer: "Je wil geen dierproef doen die je niks vertelt. Nu zijn we vooral aan het terugkijken wat we ervan hebben geleerd. En als de conclusie is: 'die dierproef leert ons niet zoveel', dan is dat een ideaal moment om ermee te stoppen. Het mooiste zou zijn als je dit vandaag ontdekt en dan iedereen belt met het verzoek om te stoppen. Maar dit duurt jaren. De Verenigde Staten, Japan en de industrie moeten allemaal overtuigd zijn dat die dierstudie niets toevoegt."

The Magazine also includes two student highlights from students that performed a research internship at (or with) the MEB. Hsiaotzu Chien investigated animal testing for cell based medicinal products, and My Nguyen went to the Health Science Authority in Singapore for her project on generics.

Want to know more about science and the MEB and our ambitions to reduce, refine and replace animal studies? Go to and read this weeks newest edition!

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