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Taiwan’s Vice President Declares Support for Animal-Free Research

The National Centre for the 3Rs would promote the adoption of the 3R principles of Replace, Reduce, Refine.

Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai loudly declared his support for the development of animal-free research methods in Taiwan at a symposium promoting the adoption of the 3R principles, held on November 20, 2021.

The symposium was organised by EAST, the National Applied Research Laboratories’ National Laboratory Animal Center (NLAC), the Toxicology Society of Taiwan (TSTA) and the Chinese-Taipei Society of Laboratory Animal Sciences (CSLAS), and is a follow-up to the inaugural symposium held in 2019.

In his opening remarks, Vice President Lai described respect for life as a universal value and declared the realisation of this value an “inescapable duty and responsibility of our generation.”

Vice President Lai expressed hope that the recent establishment of a task force to establish a centre for the 3Rs would improve conditions for animal-free research methods in Taiwan, and reserved particular optimism for the development of organ-on-a-chip, 3D tissue culture, computer simulation, and AI algorithmic system technologies in Taiwan.

“I expect this symposium will herald a brand new page in Taiwan’s development of 3R alternative methods” professed Vice President Lai as he opened the event, imploring Taiwan’s research community to play an active role in realising the One Health concept on the international stage.

Dr. Danilo Tagle, Associate Director for Special Initiatives at the US National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, kicked off the symposium with a special lecture on recent developments in organ-on-a-chip technology.

Dr. Tagle shared the results of the US National Institute of Health organ-on-a-chip efficacy and safety testing and expressed enthusiasm for microphysical systems’ (MPS) potential to produce more accurate science based on human physiology instead of the physiology of animal species. MPS are microfluidic cell-culture devices that use human primary or stem cells to mimic human organs.

Professor Ying Chih Chang of Academia Sinica’s Genomics Research Center followed Dr. Tagle’s presentation with a special lecture. Professor Chang shared the results of cutting-edge Taiwanese research on the use of patient tumour cells to develop 3D cell cultures, which can be applied in precision medicine drug screenings.

In 2019, the Council of Agriculture (COA) – the executive branch charged with enforcing the Animal Protection Act – launched a four-year cross-departmental plan to enhance support for animal-free research technologies.

In 2021, the Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST) established a task force to head up the establishment of an office dedicated to the 3Rs, also referred to as a National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3R). The Centre will lead government efforts to promote broader adoption of the 3R principles. Globally, more than 20 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil have already established NC3Rs.

EAST has long championed the establishment of a NC3R to reduce Taiwan’s reliance on animals in research.

“Taiwanese researchers are already at the forefront of global research when it comes to developing new technologies capable of replacing animal experiments, such as artificial skin and organs-on-a-chip,” said Wu Hung, Chief Executive of EAST.

“The government must foster a regulatory environment that supports local research and innovation, eliminates unnecessary animal testing and ensures Taiwanese research can compete on the international stage,” he added.

The National Centre for the 3Rs is expected to be established in 2022 under the auspices of the soon to be established National Science Council. [APBN]

Source: Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)