Given the various disciplines and programmes at Leiden University, the experiments on animals that we conduct are very diverse. It can include both biomedical as well as biological research.
The research using laboratory animals is conducted in two institutes: the Leiden Institute of Biology (IBL) and the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). There are two key lines of research where we make use of laboratory animals.
Animal sciences and health
The research in this theme allows us to acquire knowledge about fundamental biological processes, which helps us understand how healthy animals and people function. We also conduct research on the effects of disease, stress and other factors that compromise welfare, such as noise pollution. The research conducted may be intended to benefit humans, and sometimes the animals themselves. You can read more about this research theme here.
Our drug research focuses on three disease profiles: cancer, cardio-vascular diseases (such as atherosclerosis) and neurological conditions. Drug development is a very long process that includes a number of different stages. Our research focuses on what is known as the pre-clinical stage: the steps in the study before human testing can take place.
The emphasis of the initial stages of drug research is on identifying candidate compounds. For this stage, fundamental knowledge about the disease under investigation is gathered so that researchers can identify new targets for drugs. In addition, enormous numbers of compounds are screened for their activity, to see whether there may be potential medicines among them. Candidate drugs are then tested for effectiveness and toxicity in cultured cells.
Once the various stages of the research have been completed, the remaining candidate drugs are tested on laboratory animals. It is important to know whether a drug is effective in treating a disease. We select a laboratory animal model to represent a human disease as close as possible so that we can make a more detailed estimate of the drug’s effectiveness and toxicity. Our aim here is to try to make the subsequent stages, where human testing is carried out, as successful as possible. Read more about this line of research here.