17 December 2018

Animal Free Research UK and 3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences continue their partnership towards the replacement of animals in research

The 3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences (ULS) and Animal Free Research UK share the ambition to end the use of foetal calf serum (FCS, or FBS) in cell and tissue culture research. With this vision in mind, they developed the FCS-free Database (FCS-free.org) together in 2017. Now, Animal Free Research UK has underlined its partnership with the 3Rs-Centre ULS by providing generous financial support for the database in the upcoming three years. The partnership with Animal Free Research UK will increase the impact the website has on both the replacement of animals used in research and the reproducibility of in vitro studies.

Human-relevant research is win-win – it’s good for animals, people, and science. That’s why we encourage all researchers to use FCS-free media in their cell culture, and why it’s a must for our grant holders. Renewing our investment in the FCS-free database makes perfect sense, and we’ll be doing all we can to ensure as many researchers as possible are aware of this invaluable resource.

FCS is a supplement commonly used in animal cell culture media. However, its use raises considerable moral and scientific concerns. FCS is extracted from the beating heart of alive bovine foetuses taken from pregnant cows during slaughter, resulting in a serious animal welfare issue. Furthermore, FCS is a biological product with changing composition, complicating reproducibility of experiments. The FCS-free database allows researchers to identify FCS-free media for specific cell types and to discuss the applicability of each product. At this moment, the database comprises more than 500 scientific papers, describing FCS-free formulations that are either commercially available media, modifications of these media, or self-manufactured formulations. Currently, FCS-free media can be found in the database for 260 unique cell types. In addition to these literature records, researchers can also find products from commercial suppliers in the database. The partnership with Animal Free Research UK allows further expansion of the database and awareness raising activities.

The acceptation of in vitro methods will be improved when these are animal-free and give reproducible results. The replacement of FCS contributes to these important aims.

The 3Rs-Centre ULS and Animal Free Research UK will also explore additional ways to collaborate, regarding awareness-building on FCS-related issues and the reproducibility of in vitro methods.

The FCS-free Database is part of the 3Rs Database Programme, which is entirely dependent on donations and gifts. If you are interested in contributing to the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experiments, visit our page of the charitable fund Friends of VetMed.