Netherlands Knowledge Centre on Alternatives to Animal Use (NKCA)
The Netherlands Knowledge Centre on Alternatives to Animal Use (NKCA) promotes the application of the 3R-alternatives – replacement, reduction and refinement - in the Netherlands. The Centre, which is a collaboration between the RIVM and the University of Utrecht, was established by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and has been operational since January 2010. The dossier on ‘animal testing and 3R-alternatives’ was transferred to the Ministry of Economic Affairs in January 2013.
NKCA promotes the use of 3R-alternatives through coordinated activities in the following areas:
-Knowledge and information management
-Communication management (professionals and public)
-Education (including extra training)
-Advising professionals on policy and practice
Knowledge and information management
Finding suitable 3R-alternatives for animal testing is a complex business as it is not always a question of simply replacing an animal test. More and more often it is like solving a puzzle: applying a well thought-out trial or test strategy using a combination of the 3R-methods to minimize the use of animals in testing. NKCA will promote this is in 2013 by promoting the sharing of knowledge and experience as well as actual collaboration between professionals operating in the national and international arena. NKCA aims to strengthen its role as ‘3R-information broker’ and build upon the framework and resources developed over the past few years. We must persuade professionals that NKCA is the place to bring and collect their 3R-knowledge and hands on experience.
NKCA invested in a comprehensive website for professionals in 2012, in response to requests from within the field. This website will continue to develop in 2013. NKCA is currently exploring the possibilities of social media, such as twitter, facebook and linkedin for professional use. ‘Network gatherings’ are also organized by the Centre, because networking invariably results in good teamwork and collaboration. In 2013, NKCA will focus considerable attention on corporate partners and collaboration within the entire research chain. This is a recommendation from the workshop organized by the NCKA, TNO and the University of Utrecht in 2012 on obstacles and barriers preventing regulatory acceptance. Collaboration with industry in the Utrecht region has produced some positive results through the project “Smarter from Innovation to Man (SLIM). NKCA will launch a public communication initiative in 2013, the preparations for which started in 2012.
In accordance with Articles 9 and 14 of the Experiments on Animals Act, NKCA organizes the ‘animal testing alternatives’ module as part of the postgraduate training for professionals. Animal testing regulations are relatively unknown in secondary schools. In an effort to prohibit animal testing in secondary schools, NKCA contacted the education body responsible for teacher training. NKCA advises teachers on the animal-free testing models available for secondary schools, and recommends animal-testing alternatives as a potential subject for student projects. The new Law on Animal Testing, which will take effect in 2013, marks a change in education for everyone involved in animal testing. NKCA will be in a key position to provide advice on how to implement the new regulations within the education system.
The number of laboratory animals used for testing in the Netherlands appears to have stabilized at around 600,000 over the past few years. In 2012, upon request of the Ministry of Health Welfare and Sport, NKCA produced a report advising on data storage and monitoring. This advisory report includes an evaluation of the currently available data on animal testing in the Netherlands, in accordance with a request from stakeholders. Preventing duplication of animal tests and an efficient centralized registration are just two of the issues raised in this report. NKCA is also exploring the value of a monitoring system that will provide an insight into developments in the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3R) methods. The report describes which data or combinations of data (both new and existing) are reliable indicators. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is currently considering how best to implement this advice.