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EU antibody proposal concerns

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Two associations, representing 37 of Europe’s most prestigious research institutes, are the latest to express their concern over the controversial EU recommendations to ban the use of animal-derived antibodies.

The League of European Research Universities, representing 23 top research universities in Europe, including EARA members KU Leuven, the University of Helsinki, the University of Milan and UZH, condemned the recommendations by EURL ECVAM, saying that a ban would have ‘serious implications’, and called for a wider debate about the use of non-animal technologies and their current capabilities.

The recommendations by the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM), say that animal-derived antibodies are no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced with non-animal-derived alternatives.

Meanwhile EU-Life, an alliance of 14 prominent European life science institutes, including EARA members IGC, MDC, NKI and VIB highlighted the ‘important role’ that animal-derived antibodies play in research and drug development for Covid-19, stating that synthetic antibodies ‘have a higher failure rate during clinical development’.

Earlier this month, chief executives and biomedical scientists of leading pharmaceutical companies including President of Regeneron, George Yancopoulos and Vice-President of Biologics at Janssen pharmaceuticals Matt Truppo, also joined the debate, publishing a correspondence article in Nature.

The group highlighted concerns within the original report, and emphasised the success of animal-derived antibodies, over non-animal-derived, in the field of drug discovery, where 90% of approved antibody drugs over the last five years have been animal-derived.


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