The National Growth Fund Reserves 125 million euros for the Transition to Animal-Free Innovation

Veterinary medicine also involved in 'holomicrobiome' project

The National Growth Fund reserves EUR 125 million for a new Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation to accelerate the transition to animal-free research over the next ten years. This could lead to safer, more effective and better treatments with less animal suffering. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is one of the initiators.

The Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation (CPBT) is planning to accelerate the transition to animal-free biomedical innovations. This should offer economic and social benefits: improved medicines and fewer animal tests.

Poor predictor and expensive development

Often, the results obtained from animal experiments can only be translated to humans to a limited extent, if at all. In nine out of ten biomedical development pathways, it was only during studies with patients that animal experiments failed to show a therapeutic effect in humans. This increases the cost of developing new medicines by billions and causes unnecessary animal suffering. Every year, 450,000 animal tests are conducted in the Netherlands alone. This number has not decreased over the last ten years.

New center for revolutionary change

Together with a large number of national and international parties, the CPBT is planning to create a center for the development and dissemination of animal-free innovations and expertise. In first instance, the CPBT will focus on transition trajectories dealing with ALS and Cystic Fibrosis. The CPBT is planning to implement the developed methods, tools, and expertise together with researchers and industry partners. The new center wants to offer education, training, advice, and support to enhance the acceptance and use of animal-free biomedical innovations. The CPBT will become an integrated program that accelerates the transition to animal-free and will strengthen the Netherlands' earning capacity.

Social and economic impact

Prof. Wouter Dhert, part of the strategic theme Life Sciences at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht, and one of the initiators of the CPBT, says: “We are very proud that the Growth Fund reserves money for this wonderful initiative and we will adjust our plans in the coming period, so that we can really get started. If we show that economic added value is linked to a better translation of biomedical innovation for patients or consumers, resulting in fewer laboratory animals, the Netherlands will secure a unique leading position globally.”

Co-initiator Prof. Daniela Salvatori, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University, explains: “There is a significant global need to reduce the number of laboratory animals. For instance, consider the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 recently signed by President Biden, which paves the way for new drugs to enter the market without animal testing. Much is happening! It is therefore crucial to prepare our professionals with sound education and training.”

About the Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation

The Center for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation (CPBT) is an initiative of Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, Hogeschool Utrecht, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The initiative has a large number of public and private partners. The growth fund proposal was submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality.


The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is also involved in another proposal for which the Growth Fund reserves funds (200 million): holomicobioom. Here too, as with CPBT, the advisory committee understands the strategic importance of the project, has confidence in the consortium, but would like to see some adjustments worked out.

Modern science shows that 'microbiomes' - ubiquitous communities of billions of bacteria, fungi and viruses - have crucial influence on the health of people, animals, plants and the environment. Chronic diseases, antibiotic resistance, declining soil and water quality and nitrogen emissions: microbiomes play important roles in all these problems. For the first time, the interdisciplinary Holomicrobiome Institute will investigate how microbiomes in all parts of our food system together form one big network: a 'holomicrobiome'. From fields to barns, from surface water to food products, from farm animals to humans: all their microbiomes influence each other. The new institute will map all these interactions and, with the help of artificial intelligence, analyse and predict them.

Among other things, scientists from Veterinary Medicine will investigate how the microbiome of farm animals can become more resilient with innovative interventions. A resilient microbiome helps respond to transitions to more sustainable husbandry systems, climate change and threats from pathogens. This research contributes to future-proof and healthy animal husbandry for humans, animals and the economy.