The research group Innovative Testing in Life Sciences and Chemistry started its work in 2008. The group works in close co-operation with the Bachelor programs of the Institute for Life Sciences and Chemistry (part of HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht) and is located in the same building.
Working together with universities, research institutes, biotechnology and other
Life Sciences and Chemistry companies, as well as large corporations, the group has been involved in many regional, national and international research projects (www.innovativetesting.nl/projects).
Members of the research team are experts in the fields of biology and medical laboratory research. The group consists of post-docs, technicians, lecturers, graduate students and undergraduate students. Our laboratory is well equipped to run large scale projects and answer complex research questions. Its main focus is on the practical application of research, but the group is also involved in fundamental research.
The group concentrates its efforts on developing, optimizing and validating methods for testing the safety and effects of (natural) substances. By relying on in vitro methods, the group offers alternatives to experiments involving live animals. That is one of the ways in which it contributes to the 3Rs (the refinement, reduction and replacement of animal testing).
The team has facilities and technology to work on both biological and chemical research questions. Technologies available fall in one or more of three research themes: interactions of food and health, bacterial resistance to anti-biotics, safety and efficacy of (natural) compounds and mixtures.
Role of HU in VAC2VAC
In this project our research group contributes to the setup of a kinomics based safety assay for live attenuated pertussis toxin vaccines. The initial steps are to culture human and animal-derived barrier cells, expose these to different types and concentrations of pertussis toxin and perform kinome analysis. Kinome analysis is the collection of kinases that is actively expressed after a biological stimulus. Kinases are important regulators of cellular mechanisms and are known to play an important role in cellular signalling. On the basis of this important role of the kinome in cellular physiology, one can hypothesize that toxins like pertussis toxin can cause measurable changes in the kinome. This work will be the basis for an innovative method to assess safety of pertussis toxin vaccines in an animal-free manner.
Furthermore, our group will play a role in the validation of methods and the dissemination of knowledge obtained in the project. In the latter half of the project we will organize specific educational activities.
The Innovative Testing research team is headed by Dr. Cyrille Krul, director Predictive Health Technologies at TNO and associate professor at the University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool Utrecht). She is a specialist in the refinement, reduction and replacement of animal testing. As the head of the research team her goal is to inspire (young) professionals to achieve results that contribute to a sustainable future. As a business line manager at TNO she leads an innovation program in the field of biomedical research and brings the results to market. She is driven by the passion to find innovative solutions for complex challenges.
Dr. Saertje Verkoeijen studied biology (fundamental biomedical sciences) at Utrecht University. She went on to do her PhD research at Leiden University. She joined the Research Centre for Innovative Testing in Life Sciences and Chemistry in September 2007. Saertje is an expert in the field of molecular biology, cancer cell biology and signal transduction. Techniques she masters include cell culture, cell viability assays, Western blotting and ELISA.
Associate professor Dr. Marc A.T. Teunis obtained his Master's degree at the Faculty of Biology in Utrecht where he specialised in animal physiology and neurosciences. Teunis completed his Ph.D. in 2003 which was performed at Wilhelmina's Children's Hospital in Utrecht, where he worked on brain-immune inteactions and tumor angiogenesis. He is currently leading several applied research projects on development and validation of innovative alternative methods that contribute to reduction and replacement of animal testing.
Renate Nawrocki joined the University of Applied Sciences in 2001. She has experience as a research technician at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).