Antibody production by phage display adopts the same mechanistic principles as those employed by the in vivo adaptive immune system and that is also exploited for scientific research and commercial purposes. Consequently, the antibodies produced by these methods are functionally indiscernible to the extent that recombinant antibodies provide the ‘same or higher level of information as the animal procedure’, as stipulated by Directive 2010/63/EU.

Despite the emergence of better quality in vitro technologies to tackle a problem that continues to be overlooked, obsolete animal based antibody production methods persist. We have at our disposal, a mature and widely used technology that is set to have an enormous impact on animal use, owing to the fact that the reliance on antibodies by biomedical scientists, health care professionals and consumers, impacts all areas of research, development and safety testing. For that reason, it is bewildering to consider that despite the readiness of new molecular methodologies and the wealth of literature to support implementation, or despite the growing availability of companies offering AFAs, that antibodies are continuing to be produced using animal immunisation techniques. It is even more perplexing that we are not already deeply committed to a program of replacement of animal derived antibody production techniques. To encourage technical discussions that will serve to address any arising issues and feed into an EU led replacement program, to ensure that a consolidated expert opinion is reached and that a level playing field exists for all antibody producers, we have made available a group forum: AFAs – Animal Friendly Affinity-reagents