The Toxicology department of Wageningen University & Research is a partner in two large research projects that have been awarded funding from the Dutch Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC) programme of NWO. Both projects focus on developing animal testing-free alternatives for evaluating the safety of chemicals.
The Virtual Human Platform project, led by Utrecht University (IRAS institute), investigates how the safety assessment of chemicals and medicines can be performed in the future without the use of laboratory animals. It will be explored how substances interact with human physiology and biology. The consortium does this by combining innovations in data sciences, the use of physiologically relevant computer models and human tissue culture models. By involving transition management in the research, the researchers aim to accelerate the transition to an animal-free safety assessment of substances. Wageningen Food Safety Research is also involved in this consortium from Wageningen University & Research.
In the project LymphChip, led by Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), innovative ‘organ-on-chip’ models are investigated. In addition to the Toxicology department of Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is also involved as a partner in this project. Miniaturized tissue models or “Organ-on-chips” are ideally positioned to reduce and eventually replace studies on laboratory animals to study the effects that substances, nutrients and drugs can have on humans. None of the current models contain a lymphatic system, although this system is essential for our health. The researchers are developing “organ-on-chip” models with a built-in lymphatic system, as a precision tool in the fight against immune-related diseases.
The consortia of both projects will work in a team on interdisciplinary research that will bring scientific and social breakthroughs within reach. The entire knowledge chain and social organizations, both public and private parties, work closely together in the projects. The projects receive funding in the second round within the program of the National Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC). A total of more than 93 million euros is available for all funded projects. Of this amount, 81 million euros comes from the National Research Agenda, 12 million is co-financed by the (international) consortium partners.