Objectives of animal testing

Does a new drug work? Are food ingredients safe for consumption? Is it safe to work with substances in the chemical industry? The responsible use of laboratory animals helps us to find answers to these questions concerning human health as well as provide insight into the prevention and treatment of diseases. There are five international standardised categories of animal testing, shown in Table 1. The animal tests undertaken at TNO and Triskelion BV are aimed at:

  • Fundamental scientific research
  • Applied and translational research
  • Regulatory toxicity and safety testing
  • Education and training

About 20% of animal testing carried out in the Netherlands derives from the regulatory requirements to establish safety before a product may enter the market. About 70% of the animal testing performed by Triskelion BV relates to this type of research. Furthermore, both TNO and Triskelion BV use animal studies to test efficacy of human and animal drugs (TNO: 85%; Triskelion BV: almost 20%). As a research organisation TNO also performs scientific research into the mechanisms of diseases (10%). Within Triskelion BV no laboratory animals were used for fundamental scientific research in 2016.

Competent personnel and use of best practice methods contribute directly to the responsible use of laboratory animals. For the purpose of training personnel, refining research methods and implementing new research techniques and models, laboratory animals are used on a small scale (training purposes - TNO: 5% , Triskelion BV: 9%). The increased amount of animals used for education and training at Triskelion B.V. is on the one hand due to a high amount of new employees, and on the other hand due to the investment in the implementation of new techniques. Importantly the animals used for this objective were not purchased for this goal, but present in the facility and no longer available for other experiments.

Table 1: Use of laboratory animals at TNO and Triskelion BV in 2016

Before animals are used the possibilities of using other research methods to replace, reduce or refine animal testing are explored. One of TNO's research programs focuses specifically on the development, validation and implementation of 3R alternatives. Together with the government, TNO undertakes scientific research to improve public health. The scientific research questions for which TNO develops solutions are geared to societal issues. The results of this research are employed to cure people suffering from metabolic syndrome, overweight or heart and vascular diseases and to prevent these symptoms and diseases.


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