Since the core business of Traceis the development and application of a preclinical in vivo model, laboratory animals are the corner stone of our enterprise. Consequently, animal welfare is a major concern and an essential aspect of our daily activities and general strategy. We perform all experiments in a responsible and respectful way in accordance with legal requirements and ethical codes. A laboratory animal medicine expert with a veterinarian background is part of the team. All collaborators involved in this part of basic and translational cancer research successfully obtained the required license to care, manipulate and treat laboratory animals and design experimental in vivo procedures.
The housing and husbandry of the animals in the animal facility are in accordance with the most recent 2010/63/EC European Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and recently implemented under the Belgian animal welfare legislation (Royal Decree of 29 May 2013). The mice are socially housed in stable groups of compatible individuals in Individual Ventilated Cages (IVCs). Environmental enrichment is available at all time-points of the experiments to allow expression of a range of normal behavior and avoid physical and social stress. Surgical and/or painful interventions are executed under state-of-the-art anaesthesia protocols followed by analgesia. The general condition and welfare of the mice are checked at least daily and preventive measures are taken to avoid unneeded suffering.
We are constantly looking for alternatives to animal testing. The 3 Rs (reducement, refinement and replacement) are an integral part of the research policy at Trace. We strive to use as few animals as possible (reducement), to optimize as much as possible to limit the animals’ suffering (refinement) and, wherever possible, we replace animal testing by in vitro experiments (replacement). We continue to develop new in vitro techniques based on Patient-Derived Cell Cultures (PDCs) in order to limit animal testing as much as possible.
For each new project, we carefully balance the use of animals in relation with their importance for human welfare. Animal testing is necessary for our progress in cancer research and is of vital importance for our patients. We are clearly committed to the welfare of these animals. At the same time, we express our respect for those who have a different standpoint on this issue. The official declaration of KU Leuven on research with lab animals can be found here.
Animal testing is necessary for our progress in cancer research and is of vital importance for our patients.