Swiss 3Rs Day 2022 Recap

Following the welcoming address by 3RCC Director Jenny Sandström, the Swiss 3Rs Day kicked off in the Hotel Kreuz in Bern. With 150 participants in the filled crowd, the first session focused on 3Rs implementation in practice, chaired by Hanno Würbel (Uni Bern, Switzerland). First, Lynne Sneddon (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) gave a talk on the refinement of zebrafish experiments — a species whose use as a model is increasing globally. She gave interesting insights on the assessment of their welfare based on automated video monitoring.

Finding new homes for experimental animals can be tricky. But Paulin Jirkof (UZH, Switzerland) explained the prerequisites, challenges, and potential of a re-homing program for experimental animals at Swiss Universities. This collaborative project between SAP/STS, UZH and EPFL may now guide new institutions in joining this endeavor. Guillaume Andrey (University of Geneva, Switzerland) followed with a presentation about embryos derived from tetraploid complementation to study developmental mechanisms. In particular, his chimaeric approach helped in reducing the number of animals used by 80%, while still achieving outstanding fundamental understandings on regulatory mechanisms in the developing embryo. The session was rounded off by Raphaël Doenlen’s (EPFL, Switzerland) talk on the Digital Ventilated Cage (DVC) – a non-invasive and non-stressful home-cage monitoring technology, which – similar to the zebrafish monitoring system – may provide information on the welfare status of the animals.

The Keynote lecture of the day was held by Volker Lauschke (Karolinska Instituet, Sweden) on organotypic and microphysiological human tissue models for translational pharmacology. It was chaired by Christopher Cederroth (3RCC). Prof. Lauschke gave an overview of recent efforts in developing 3D human tissue cultures and microfluidic models for both efficacy and safety assessments using phenotypic screening. One outstanding example was the evidence that human liver organoids (cultured in absence of matrix and FCS) were more predictive of NASH (Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis) and Sars-Cov2 infections, than were 2D culture models.

The scientific program continued with a session on 3Rs innovation and research, chaired by Laura Suter-Dick (FHNW). Gregory Segala (Fluosphera SA, Switzerland) introduced 3D multi-organoid systems for drug discovery — a promising technology with the potential to become a concrete alternative to animal experimentation. Prior to breaking out for the engaging poster session, Remi Villenave (F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., Switzerland) presented on the application of microphysiological systems (MPS) in the pharmaceutical industry and discussed the challenges and future developments of MPS. This was followed by Johanes Bohacek’s (ETH Zurich, Switzerland) presentation, which demonstrated the advancements of behavioural analysis through machine vision and deep learning as well as the resulting positive impact on animal welfare. Julie Vérièpe’s (UniL, Switzerland) presentation about using C. elegans to diversify study models closed the second session of the scientific program with insights into the relevance of C. elegans for reducing the number of rodent experiments, strongly evidenced with her studies on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (AMS).

In the last session, chaired by Armand Mensen (3RCC), we got to hear about the award-winning research from our 3RCC awardees. Urs Meyer (UZH, Switzerland) presented on behalf of his student Joseph Scarborough, the innovative research on micropipette-guided drug administration (MDA) in mice. Pauline Zamprogno (Uni Bern, Switzerland) presented her work on lung-on-a-chip models. Bernard Voekl (Uni Bern, Switzerland) presented on the standardization fallacy and how it can be remedied by adding heterogeneity to study designs. The last talk of the day way held by awardee Ronald Dijkman (Uni Bern, Switzerland) on SARS-CoV2 in the human respiratory epithelium. Short video clips introducing their research further will appear on the Swiss 3RCC website soon.

The conference closed with the awarding of the poster prize that went to Adrien Roux for his poster on an in vitro model to replace in vivo traumatic brain injury rodent models. We received feedback that the prize money has gone to good use, fueling his team with coffee to help them work even more efficiently on 3Rs advancement! We thank everyone who participated and look forward to announcing the time and place for our next Swiss 3Rs day in 2023 soon!

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