HCR.20.036 – Slaughterhouse waste material as alternative to laboratory animal use in research and education

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 101 Can we model the human body and use smart technologies for health, nutritional, and toxicity research, drastically reducing the use of laboratory animals at the same time?

The goal of this project is to develop novel experimental models based on the use of state-of-the-art ex vivo organ perfusion techniques, using organs from commercial abattoirs, to reduce and replace the use of laboratory animals. The University Medical Center Groningen is a pioneer in the field of organ perfusion. Although this technique is predominantly used to preserve human donor organs, it has been adapted by our team to investigate the pharmacology and toxicology of drug candidates in porcine organs ex vivo. Perfused organs can also be used for the preparation of precision-cut tissue slices – viable explants that can be cultured ex vivo whilst maintaining tissue characteristics. This model has been developed by the department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy (RUG). The use of porcine organs has many advantages. First and foremost, porcine organs resemble human organs more accurately than organs from rodents in terms of anatomical, structural, functional, and immunological properties. Porcine organs are also plentiful, considering that over fifteen million pigs are slaughtered in the Netherlands per year (source RVO). With this project, we aim to share our expertise throughout the Netherlands (and beyond) and to develop robust ex vivo models that can be used by specialized research institutes to screen the safety and efficacy of drug candidates. We also want to develop a low-cost teaching module for schools and universities. Ideally, our consortium would be composed of clients (schools, biotech- and pharmaceutical companies), researchers (universities and other knowledge institutes), technology experts (applied universities), logistics experts, abattoir representatives, and governmental entities (Dutch Food Safety Authority and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food quality).


perfusion, Pharmacology, pigs, precision-cut tissue slices, TOXICOLOGY


Organisation University of Groningen (RUG)
Name Prof. dr. P. (Peter) Olinga
E-mail p.olinga@rug.nl