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Animal-Free Innovations

The Netherlands aspires to be a leader in the international transition to research and innovation that makes use of no laboratory animals. TNO is working on this transition with companies, governments, academic institutions and civil society organizations by developing and implementing new technologies to make it possible.

Laboratory animals are still needed in research into drug efficacy and safety, for example, partly due to regulations and partly because no reliable alternatives are yet available. New technologies are making it possible to accelerate the transition to animal-free drug testing. TNO is developing practical innovations for both pre-clinical and clinical research.


There is plenty of dynamism both at home and abroad in the areas of science, health and people’s perception of safety and risks. This offers scope for new approaches to biomedical research and novel methods that better predict human responses to medical innovations. TNO is working with its partners on the Animal-free Innovation Transition Programme (TPI), initiated by the Dutch national government, with the aim of accelerating the transition to research that no longer makes use of laboratory animals. ‘Renewal networks’ are the backbone of TPI: provisional networks with front-runners and interested parties in the chain who want to stick their necks out and collaborate intensively on animal-free innovations. TNO is one of these front-runners.

“Our role at TNO is to look beyond the hype by getting to the essence of new scientific research and by maintaining contacts in the business community so that we can match the supply of innovative research to demand coming from industry,” explains Han van de Sandt, head of Metabolic Health Research at TNO.

Technologies that make a difference

TNO is also contributing to accelerating the transition to animal-free research by working on a number of technologies that will make a real difference, including organ-on-a-chip, microtracing, in silico systems and research with ex-vivo human tissue. Human stem cells can be grown on organs-on-a-chip that can then be used to mimic a specific human organ function. These organs-on-a-chip will improve our ability to predict which drugs will work in whom, and which will be ineffective. Microtracing (also called microdosing) is a highly specialized technique that involves administering minute quantities of safe medications to human test subjects to study their effects.

TNO’s animal testing policy

As part of our CSR efforts, TNO has formulated a diligent animal testing policy, which focuses on the 3R principle (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) and on animal-free innovations.

Collaboration in programmes

TNO is involved in extensive national and international networks of organizations and individuals who, like us, stand for excellent biomedical research and animal-free innovations.


Animal testing policy

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Animal testing policy

Dr. ir. Han van de Sandt

  • Sustainable innovation
  • health
  • safety
  • toxicology
  • risk management


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