Donating blood is life saving

12 Jun 2020 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports



June 14 is World Blood Donor Day. A day to thank blood donors for their selfless and life saving gift. Did you know that not all donated blood goes to the ICs to save patients? Donors can indicate whether their blood may be used for scientific research. And that is important. For example, for the development of alternatives to animal testing.

For example, 400,000 rabbits are used every year for batch-to-batch testing. These are animal experiments that are required by law. A cancer patient who is given a medicine may assume that it is free from contaminants. And when you go backpacking in India, you want the typhoid vaccine to be safe.


All organic products that are injected into humans are therefore extensively tested. And when a batch vaccines runs out, a new one is needed. The new batch is then not only tested for effectiveness, but also for the possible presence of contaminants.

The latter can be done with so-called pyrogenity tests. During the production process, bacterial products can end up in vaccines or medicines. This is dangerous because our immune system detects no difference between bacterial products that are accidentally in a drug and bacterial products that come from a severe infection. Only if the products do not provoke an overreaction of the immune system can they be used in humans.

Animal-free alternatives

Pyrogenicity has traditionally been tested in rabbits. And because that has been happening in this way for so long, it now counts as the so-called gold standard. But there are also animal-free alternatives.

In order to be allowed to replace the legally required tests in rabbits with animal-free alternatives, it must be established that these are at least as reliable. And that is not easy. That is why the European Commission has brought together a number of scientists. The Vac-2-Vac consortium is committed to evaluating and validating these animal-free techniques. They do this partly with white blood cells from blood from donors.

In the Vac-2-Vac consortium, also BPRC participates in validating animal-free techniques for batch to batch testing. Scientists at our institute provide animal-free culture cells and techniques that can help replace pyrogenicity tests in animals.

Do you also want to help develop alternatives to animal testing? Then donate blood and give permission for use in scientific research.