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Biomedical research

According to the last report on the use of animals for scientific purposes in EU Member States, in 2019 about 70% of animals were used in basic and in applied and translational research in the fields of human and veterinary medicine.

Review of advanced non-animal models in biomedical research

EURL ECVAM has launched a series of studies to review available and emerging non-animal models being used for research in seven disease areas:

  • respiratory tract diseases
  • breast cancer
  • neurodegenerative disorders
  • immuno-oncology
  • immunogenicity testing for advanced medicinal therapy products
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • autoimmune diseases


The aim is to identify and describe specific research contexts where animal models have been put aside in favour of novel non-animal techniques that use, for example, in vitro methods based on human cells and engineered tissues or in silico approaches employing computer modelling and simulation.

Transition towards non-animal approaches

The expectation is that by understanding and sharing information on successful use-cases of alternative models in biomedical research, the transition towards non-animal approaches can be better facilitated and potentially accelerated.

Tackling human diseases

Encouraging the uptake of alternative methods is important to tackle such considerable reliance on animal experiments for carrying out research.

Moreover, since alternative methods offer the promise of recapitulating human physiology more effectively than many animal models, shifting to new animal-free methodologies and research strategies can in fact enhance the understanding of human-specific biology and disease.

The series of studies


A total of 284 publications were identified as the most representative and innovative models according to a set of inclusion/exclusion criteria.


Around 120,000 peer-reviewed publications were retrieved and screened for innovative and promising advanced non-animal models of breast cancer.


We created an inventory of 567 models, ranging from biochemical and computational approaches to different types of cell cultures and procedures using ex vivo human material.


542 scientific peer-reviewed articles were selected for a deeper analysis of the non-animal models used.

Non-animal models as promising tools to fight cardiovascular diseases

We identified 449 publications as candidate advanced non-animal models used for cardiovascular disease research.

Autoimmuen diseases

A total of 183 advanced non-animal models were identified and then described in the field of autoimmune diseases.

Related news

  • News article
  • 30 October 2020

The JRC has produced a freely available knowledge base of over 900 non-animal models for breast cancer research. Furthermore, a new factsheet on breast cancer burden in the EU-27 has also been published.