Replacing basement membrane extracts (BMEs): Webinar series

A new webinar series from a cross-European group of 3Rs centres aims to explore the challenges and opportunities when it comes to replacing BMEs, from research through to application.

Reliable and reproducible in vitro models are essential for replacing the use of animals in scientific procedures. The availability of complex 3D models, including organoids and microphysiological systems, has in recent years strengthened this replacement potential. However, many in vitro models are dependent on animal-derived products, for example to support cell growth or differentiation, which can show batch-to-batch variation and can involve animal suffering in their production. Replacing these with non-animal derived products provides an opportunity to increase the reproducibility of in vitro models and remove the use of animals completely.

The series is aimed at researchers (academics, clinicians and industry), but also potentially regulators, funding organisations and publishers and is a chance to hear from experts from across the field, to pose questions and to be part of the wider discussions around the implementation of these alternatives.

Format and registration

Each webinar will begin at 12:30 CST (11:30 UK time) and run for 1 – 1 ½ hours. There will be a chance to ask questions during each of the webinars, which will feed into the final panel discussion taking place in December.

All webinars are free to attend, but registration in advance is required to obtain access.

You can register for one, or multiple sessions through zoom


Session 1
Replacing basement membrane extracts (BMEs): An introduction

12:30 – 13:30 CET (11:30 – 12:30 BST) 21 October 2021
What are BMEs, and what are the challenges that come with replacing them? What are the hurdles and opportunities that BMEs present across different application areas?

  • Chair: Professor Jens Kurreck, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Dr Simone Rizzi, Independent, Switzerland
  • Professor Glen Prestwich, University of Utah, USA
  • Dr Alekasnder Skardal, Ohio State University, USA

Recording now available.

Session 2
BMEs and replacements from a research perspective

12:30 – 14:00 CET (11:30 – 13:00 GMT) 4 November 2021
Exploring different applicational areas, from basic research to preclinical drug development where BMEs can be replaced, and how the replacements can be incorporated into translational research.

  • Chair: Professor Cathy Merry, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Dr Andreas Kurtz, Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Dr Eirini Velliou, University College London, UK
  • Dr Jennifer Ashworth, University of Nottingham, UK

Session 3
BMEs and replacements for clinical application areas

12:30 – 14:00 CET (11:30 – 13:00 GMT) 18 November 2021
Touching on diagnostics, regenerative medicine and the regulatory aspects of replacing BMEs.

  • Chair: Dr Erwin Roggen, ToxGenSolutions, The Netherlands
  • Professor Jakob Benedict Seidelin, Herlev Hospital, Denmark
  • TBC, HUB Organoids, The Netherlands

Session 4
The future of BMEs and their replacements: A panel discussion

12:30 – 13:30 CET (11:30 – 13:30 GMT) 2 December 2021
A chance for previous speakers to come together to discuss the wider topic of replacing BMEs, and the 3Rs implications of the approaches discussed.

  • Chair: Professor Cathy Merry, University of Nottingham,, UK


Session 1

Organising committee

Charité 3R
Charité 3R aims to strengthen interdisciplinary and translational research at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin while improving animal welfare. Charité 3R has organized its aims and activities in three distinct pillars. Pillar I focuses on communication and outreach, aiming at increasing awareness and knowledge about the chances and challenges of alternative methods.  Pillar II provides training opportunities on the 3Rs with a strong focus on young scientists. Pillar III funds 3R research at Charité via dedicated calls that tackle one or more of the 3R areas. The center is financed by the Charité.

The Danish 3R-Center
The Danish 3R-center works to promote the 3Rs in Denmark. It is a collaboration between the government, three pharmaceutical companies and two animal welfare organizations and consists of a board (seven members) and a secretariat (four employees). To promote the 3Rs, the centre collects and disseminates 3Rs information, initiates and supports research within the 3Rs, and collaborates internationally, including hosting an annual conference on the 3Rs.

The Swedish 3Rs Center
The Swedish 3Rs Center is an assembling arena for knowledge and progress when it comes to replace, reduce and refine animal experiments in Sweden. Their aim is to improve animal welfare and reduce the number of animals used in experiments. Their committee is the Swedish National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes. The centre is funded by the Swedish Government and was established in 2017.

The Swiss 3R Competence Centre
The Swiss 3R Competence Centre is a non-profit association founded in March 2018 to promote the 3Rs through research, education and communication. It is a joint initiative of Switzerland's 11 top universities, the pharmaceutical industry, the Swiss government and the largest animal welfare association.

The UK National Centre for the 3Rs – NC3Rs
The UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is a scientific organisation dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing. Primarily funded by the UK Government, the NC3Rs is also supported by the charitable and private sectors. It works with scientists in universities and industry in the UK and internationally, funding and disseminating 3Rs information and advances to the global community.

3Rs-Centre of the Utrecht University
3Rs-Centre of the Utrecht University stimulates the development, acceptation and implementation of methods which can replace, reduce and refine animal experiments, the 3R’s. The centre facilitates the 3Rs in education and animal research in many ways, by providing information and advice about 3Rs models. The Centre collaborates closely with the Animal Welfare Body Utrecht. Together they manage the Utrecht 3Rs-fund.