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Newsletter 3
11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences
Free Live WC11 webinars on 
3Rs in COVID-19 research
25 and 26 August 2020 | 3 PM CET
On 25 and 26 August 2020 at 3 PM CET, WC11 will organize two 1.5 hour webinars on 3Rs in COVID-19 research. On both days, several excellent presentations will highlight innovative model systems to study COVID-19, and will also discuss new strategies for the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics and much more!
New speakers confirmed!
Tuesday 25 August 2020
Koert Stittelaar, PhD.
General Manager, Viroclinics Xplore (The Netherlands)
Animal models and alternatives for COVID-19 research
"Although repurposed licensed drugs may directly be tested in human clinical trials, pre-clinical assessment of the safety and efficacy of new vaccines and treatments requires the use of relevant animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease such as hamsters, ferrets, mice non-human primates while for discovery or otherwise early stage research alternatives like cell lines or organoids can be used. In vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models demonstrating susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or reproduction of COVID-19 disease have now been established and appear in the scientific literature allowing the field to choose the most suitable test platform. This presentation will address advantages and limitations of animal models as well as in vitro models. Also opportunities to reduce and refine animal studies will be discussed."
Wednesday 26 August 2020
Thomas Hartung
Director CAAT, Johns Hopkins University (United States of America)
COVID-19 – what is in the box of alternative methods?
"The unprecedented challenge and medical success story of COVID-19 opens the door for the application of new approach methods. Advanced cell culture (microphysiological systems) and big data / A.I. have changed the repertoire of alternative methods and lend themselves now to help accelerating drug and vaccine development with faster and more human-relevant data. Examples from our own research on SARS-CoV-2 in BrainSpheres and A.I. to predict compound properties are given to illustrate this."
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Is there a role for the 3Rs in COVID-19 research?
In the past few weeks we have asked several people to answer the question: "Is there a role for the 3Rs in COVID-19 research?". Every week we will send you the answers we received from scientists all over the world.
Yasuyuki Sakai
Professor at the Department of Chemical System Engineering at the Graduate School of Engineering of the University of Tokyo-Japan and President of the Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments (Japan).
“COVID-19 really reminded us of the importance of animal experiments to sustain our health and also of the importance of refinement and reduction. Simultaneously, new non-animal technologies for vaccine production and evaluation emerges, demonstrating the new potentials of “replacement”. In addition, deep involvement of human immune system suggest the importance of research/development of non-animal but human-cell derived new approach methods, where integration of physiological tissue/organ culture systems, multi-hierarchical comprehensive analyses and various numerical methods is really required to predict the situation of individual patients and optimize their treatment.
Helena Kandárová
President of the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (The Slovak Republic)
“COVID-19 is undoubtedly the most relevant viral disease in the scientific community these days. In recent months, tremendous activities have been being developed towards the understanding of the mechanisms of the disease, investigation of the possible treatments and vaccine development. In the battle with time and growing incidence of the disease, in vitro and in silico methods that contribute to the COVID-19 research are gaining momentum. In silico modelling is used to identify and predict transmission patterns and discover potential therapeutic candidates. Physiologically relevant organoids and in vitro 3D human cell-based models of healthy as well as diseased lungs are helping to test the mode-of-action hypotheses and select the most promising molecules for immunisation and disease treatments. Overall, these methods are not anymore “alternatives”, but highly relevant and reproducible tools in pre-clinical studies of new drug and vaccine candidates. They are saving time as well as lives of experimental animals necessary for the understanding of the disease, its treatment and prevention.”
Erin Hill
President of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences and President of the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology (United States of America)
“There are very important roles for in vitro and in silico tools to investigate the biology of viruses, details of disease states and therapies. Human cell cultures, such as reconstructed tissues, organoids, and ex vivo models of the respiratory tract, such as human precision-cut lung slices, combined with controlled exposure systems, allow researchers to test the safety and efficacy of therapies to COVID-19 in a much faster timeline compared to animal models. The effect of the virus itself on lungs and other organs can also be investigated rapidly to better understand the mechanisms of disease development. When new therapies or vaccines are discovered, cell culture systems can be used to determine the quality (e.g. lot-to-lot reproducibility) of those medicines. As the sophistication of these tools increases with the use of micro-fluidic organ-on-a-chip systems and artificial intelligence, we will only see an increase in the utility of these methods to help protect public health."
11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences
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