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Doerenkamp-Zbinden animal protection prize awarded to the head of ZEBET

24/2000, 30.10.2000

Within the framework of the international congress on in vitro toxicology, INVITOX 2000, the animal protection award of the Swiss Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation including 25,000 Swiss franks prize money was presented at the weekend in Spanish Alicante. Professor Vera Rogiers, Medical-Pharmaceutical Faculty of the Free University Brussels and Dr. Horst Spielmann, Head of the Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) in BgVV received the prize for their successful attempts to reduce and replace animal experiments. The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation was set up 10 years ago by Professor Gerhard Zbinden, Director of the ETH Institute of Toxicology Zurich. Besides the annual award of the animal protection prize, the Foundation supports projects to replace animal experiments in research and teaching.

Horst Spielmann received the prize in recognition of his work in the search for alternatives to animal experiments in biomedical research. Besides his activities as co-founder and Chairman of European societies which focus on the replacement of animal experiments (like for instance the 'European Research Group for Alternatives in Toxicological Testing, ERGATT), the award paid tribute above all to the setting up and successful work of the Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments. ZEBET has acquired an internationally renowned reputation in the 10 years since its inception both in the establishment of the first international database for proven alternatives to animal experiments (cf. BgVV Press Release 03/2000) and in the scientific validation of the first toxicological test methods for phototoxicity and corrosive effects on the skin which are free of animal experiments which have been recognised officially in the EU (cf. BgVV Press Release 05/2000).

ZEBET's more recent activities have also met with international acclaim. For instance, the successful completion of an EU project on the validation of in vitro screening methods for the prediction of the property of a substance to damage embryos with the help of embryonal stem cells. At a workshop staged by the National Toxicology Programme (NTP), US-American authorities have now also taken up a demand by ZEBET which could help to considerably reduce the number of animal experiments. According to this, the initial dose in animal experiments in tests for acute toxicity of substances could, in future, be determined on the basis of data obtained from the cell culture test and no longer as was the case so far from animal experiments.

In 1997 Horst Spielmann was also presented with two animal protection awards for his work. At that time he received the "Russel and Burch Award" of the US-American Humane Society for the validation of the phototoxicity test and the Anny-Eck-Hieff-FISEA Prize for the development of the embryonal stem cell test.


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