ECEAE Prize for animal-free antibodies: The winners

The prize will be awarded to outstanding scientists from Germany and Switzerland on 30th March in Brussels

The umbrella organization European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) will award the first prize in the world dedicated specifically to the development and application of animal-free antibodies. Two exceptional candidates will receive equivalent prizes, amounting to 10,000 euros each. One prizewinner is the company Abcalis GmbH from Braunschweig, Germany. The other prize goes to the Geneva Antibody Facility at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. The award ceremony will take place on 30th March in Brussels, Belgium and will feature invited speakers from the EU Parliament and the EU Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Traditionally, the majority of antibodies for research, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes are produced in living animals, although non-animal systems have been available for decades. For this purpose, an antigen is injected into the bloodstream of mice, rabbits, horses, goats, sheep or other animals – this can be bacteria, viruses, proteins or other substances. The animal’s immune system forms antibodies against the antigen, which are then obtained from the animal’s blood or spleen. In 2020, the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) published a “Recommendation on non-animal-derived antibodies” urging the EU member states to no longer authorize the use of animals for antibody production (1). Yet, an estimated one million animals are still used for antibody production in the EU alone.

In support of EURL ECVAM’s recommendation, ECEAE created a unique Prize for animal-free antibodies. The prize aims to raise awareness about the scientific and ethical advantages of animal-free antibodies and to encourage their acceptance and use for research and therapeutic purposes. After receiving multiple excellent applications, ECEAE has decided to award two equivalent prizes, amounting to 10,000 euros each, to two superb candidates who have greatly contributed to the development, distribution and promotion of animal-free antibodies worldwide.

One award winner is the company Abcalis GmbH from Braunschweig, Germany, represented by Dr Esther Wenzel and Prof. Dr Stefan Dübel. Abcalis is one of the pioneers in animal-free antibody production via state-of-the-art phage display technology. The company offers a catalogue with established animal-free, vegan antibodies, as well as a contract service for the generation of new antibodies. Abcalis has also developed the so-called “multiclonals” – a novel class of recombinant, animal-free antibodies to replace the largest group of current animal-derived antibodies, the polyclonal sera and serum-based secondary antibodies. Finally, the company has successfully optimized their production processes and implemented an economical structure to make its animal-free antibodies available for everybody.

The other prize is awarded to Prof. Dr Pierre Cosson and his colleagues at the Geneva Antibody Facility at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. The winners have established the open access ABCD database containing more than 23,000 recombinant animal-free antibodies. The Geneva Antibody Facility produces and distributes the antibodies listed in the ABCD database, thus making them easily accessible to the scientific community. Furthermore, Dr Cosson and his team created the open access scientific journal Antibody Reports where scientists can publish the characterization of their recombinant antibodies, which in turn are added to the ABCD database and made available to all interested researchers.

At the award ceremony, the winners will present their work, answer questions from the public and participate in a panel discussion. Additionally, Tilly Metz, MEP from the Group of the Greens, and Joao Barroso, member of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission and EURL ECVAM, will talk about the need to move away from animal-derived antibodies and how this can be achieved in the EU. The event is free of charge and open to all interested parties.


1. Viegas Barroso JF et al. EURL ECVAM recommendation on non-animal-derived antibodies, Publications Office of the European Union, 2020


Date, time: Wed., March 30, 2022, 13:00 to 17:00 CET

Location: Atelier 29, Rue Jacques de Lalaing 29, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

On-site contact: Dr Dilyana Filipova, Scientific officer at Doctors Against Animal Experiments, Tel. +49 2203-20222-33