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HELPATHON #1 (winter 2018) and #2 (spring 2019) is still impacting the practice of the researchers involved. They successfully applied for grants to progress new animal free research. Below you will find the latest updates of the progres.

HELPATHON#1

REPURPOSING AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP AND VALIDATE A NEW ANIMAL FREE MODEL

Can we study the mechanisms of and develop a treatment for dynamic burn wound deepening and treatment without animal testing?

The concept of Helpathon was first tried out at the Dutch Burns Foundation who strongly promotes animal free innovation in the winter of 2018. The Helpathon was organized around the following question: 'can we study the mechanisms of and develop a treatment for dynamic burn wound deepening and treatment without animal testing?'

Researcher Paul Krijnen and funder Carine van Schie were all set to use mice to investigate the efficacy of a particular substance in inhibiting burn wound deepening and thereby positively affecting burn wound healing. During the Helpathon Paul was challenged to develop an organ on chip model to mimic human burn wounds and to use results from this model instead of animals to test the drug and to correlate these results to a clinical study in humans. Once validated, the organ on chip model can be used for the future testing of new substances. The latest update is that Paul has started the project of the development and validation of his burn wound organ on chip model in Amsterdam UMC.

HELPATHON#2

CHALLENGED TO JUMP TO RESEARCH ON HUMAN TISSUE

"We have learned that perhaps less pre-clinical research is needed to complete our test of potential medicines in humans / patients. It is now clearer for us which steps need to be taken and that the use of animals is not always necessary. Thanks to this TPI Helpathon we have gained new insights about existing in vitro / cell culture systems that we can use to test our therapies. These models can give results that may be more relevant to humans than results obtained from laboratory animals."

Helpathon#2 was initiated by Karin Eizema from the Dutch Heart Foundation. She challenged three researchers with a animal testing practice to participate in a Helpathon.

Developing and validating a vaccine against atherosclerosis in humans takes a long time; can Bram and Ilze accelerate this by using animal-free alternatives? — Bram Slütter en Ilze Bot are both university teachers and researchers at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, in the division of Biotherapeutics.

Based on insights gained during the Helpathon, Bram and Ilze felt encouraged to pursue their pioneering work on human tissues. After the Helpathon Karin, Bram and Ilze created a research plan to further develop this animal free research practice with other Helpathon participants. Together, they successfully applied for a grant to develop a new, animal-free model to test medicines and vaccines against atherosclerosis, using human tissues recovered from surgery. The new research model is now being optimized. They expect to be able to test active substances in the near future.

When mice drink extracellular vesicles of cow milk this has benign effect on joint infections, can Fons capitalize on his finding for human health without further testing on animals? - Fons van de Loo is program leader at the Advanced biological therapy and biomarker research Department of Experimental Rheumatology, Radboud Academic Medical Center.

During HELPATHON#2 we also tackled this second question. The best way to capitalize seemed to start a business around his finding. The big question remained the health claim for humans. The latest update is that Fons can carry out more research to show these extracellular vesicles positively influence the human intestine. With the help of Karin and other people involved in the Helpathon Fons successfully applied for a grant to further progress his work in an animal free way. His project is called: Restore with extracelullar vesicles the function of the intestinal tract. due to the corona break out, his research is on hold now. Meanwhile Fons has become an active animal free innovation ambassador and is challenging his peers to look again at their research practice involving animals.