This is an increasingly contested practice. Here or abroad, animal experimentation is singled out, decried, denounced. “Useless suffering”, “willful mistreatment”, “barbaric researchers”: the accusations are heavy and numerous. Faced with the weight of animal welfare activists, the political world is taking action.
1 million euros per year. This is the budget released by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation for the development of alternative experimentation methods. The regions add an additional 560,000 euros. “Our ultimate goal is the elimination of animal testing” says Minister Valérie Glatigny (MR). “But first, we have to develop alternatives. We have an obligation of means to do our utmost to reduce the number of animals used”.
An organic printer instead of animals
Behind the doors of a cramped laboratory at UCLouvain, we discover one of these alternatives. A 3D bioprinter capable of reproducing living cells layer by layer. “I put ink in the cartridge, I put it here to control the temperature” says Cristina Belda Marín, doctor and researcher at UCLouvain. “We can add cells to this ink, in order to mimic the conditions of the human body” she details.