Helpathon for animal-free methods

How can animal-free methods help in understanding and combatting human diseases? That is the central question posed in the various ‘helpathons’ organised through the TPI programme. Through ‘organised chance’, participants think up creative solutions for animal-free research methods.

Creative solutions

During a helpathon, teams think up creative solutions for a single central question raised by someone planning to conduct animal-free research. The events are derived from ‘hackathons’, the purpose of which is to develop software or hardware in a short period of time. These Lush award-winning helpathons were developed by Mr. de Leeuw.

Burn wound in a test tube

How can burn wounds and the circulation of blood in the area surrounding a wound be examined without the use of laboratory animals? That was the central question for the first TPI helpathon held in November 2018 at the Netherlands Burns Foundation (Nederlandse Brandwonden Stichting). Burn researchers and the Amsterdam UMC are now putting the solution devised in the helpathon to use, together with healthcare professionals and staff at the Pharming medicine company. This solution involves burns being simulated on human skin in a test tube and examined.

Vaccine against arteriosclerosis

The second helpathon took place at the Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting) in May 2019. The topic was testing a vaccine against arteriosclerosis. Testing this possible vaccine on humans would involve a lengthy process. How could animal-free alternatives accelerate this? Another question related to using vesicles from milk as a medicine against joint inflammation like rheumatism. This works in mice, but how can the effect on humans be tested without using animals?

The helpathon is now common knowledge in the field of animal-free innovation. The 10th helpathon will take place at the end of 2023. Helpathons are now also organized in the United Kingdom and Sweden. A way is now being sought to offer this form of knowledge-sharing on a permanent basis. Read about the results of all helpathons.