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 experts and the research centres where these techniques can be learned.
WHICH NAMS DOES RE-PLACE COLLECT?
We are collecting information on all NAMs in basic and applied research that avoid the direct use of animals, used as stand-alone or combined with animal experimentation to collect the information of interest. NAMs are thus not necessarily one-by-one replacement methods but can contribute to the overall replacement or reduction of animal testing. They can also be a single step within a broader research strategy.
NAMs thus include different types of:
- In vitro and ex vivo methods (e.g. experiments with the use of 2D - 3D cell lines and tissue cultures, NRU Phototoxicity Test, AMES, BCOP, …);
- In silico modeling (e.g. molecular modeling and mathematical approaches, PBPK models, QSAR, read across, …);
- In chemico techniques (e.g. assays evaluating the reactivity and properties of substances or components);
- Alternative in vivo models (e.g. fruit flies, flatworms, early stages of zebrafish, …);
- Other innovative techniques (e.g. organ-on-a-chip);
WE NEED YOUR HELP
In order to obtain such an up-to-date inventory, we need the help of the scientific community in Belgium! We invite you to submit information (scope of the method, short description, keywords,..) for all NAMs in which you have experience via the RE-Place online tool (www.RE-Place.be). These methods do not necessarily have to be developed by yourself, nor by the organization you are working for. It is really your personal know-how on the use of NAMs which is the essential information we are looking for.
By submitting your expertise, you will not only have access to a reliable overview of different NAMs, but also to the names of experts and research centres who have expressed willingness to pass on their knowledge. As such, efforts done by Belgian scientists will become more visible to the (inter)national scientific community, and will help to create a realistic overview of the NAMs that are actually used today.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR NEED HELP?
Do not hesitate to contact info@RE-Place.be for more information.
We can help you in:
- Creating an account to the RE-Place website,
- Submitting a method to the RE-Place database,
- Providing an onsite presentation of the RE-Place project in your institute.