Stem cells instead of laboratory animals

6 years ago

In 2014, Robert Passier received the ‘Lef in het Lab’ (courage in the lab) prize from the Dierenbescherming for testing the side-effects of medicines on human cells instead of on laboratory animals. Passier is affiliated with the department of Anatomy and Embryology at the Leiden University Medical Center.

Passier uses human stem cells for his research into the harmful effects of medicines. These cells can be made into heart cells by subjecting them to specialised growth conditions. He then uses the resulting heart cells to test whether medicines cause side-effects such as arrhythmias. Laboratory animals are therefore unnecessary. “I actually have the patient’s own heart cells in a petri dish, and I can directly study their disease in that dish,” says Passier.