In the USA, the general public want the use of animals in medical training to cease, but, at least in Australia, some teachers want it to continue, even when effective non-animal alternatives are available.
Little is known about how food interacts with the intestinal epithelium during the digestion process. However, it is known that ingredients in food can modulate the intestinal barrier, and have the potential to disrupt homeostasis of the gut. Here, we characterise a conditionally immortalised canine intestinal epithelial cell (cIEC) line for use in in vitro assays, to assess the effect of food ingredients on intestinal barrier function, permeability, cell health, and inflammation. Microscopy and flow cytometry confirmed that cIECs had a phenotype consistent with those of epithelial origin, and were able to differentiate to mature enterocytes. The cIECs also formed a monolayer when grown on Transwell® inserts, producing functional tight junctions between the cells. In contrast to the human-derived Caco-2 cell line, transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) was increased in cIECs in response to two different raw ingredients. The exposure of cIECs to known inflammatory stimuli and raw ingredients induced the nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B-cells (NF-κB). This work demonstrates the value of a unique cIEC in vitro model to study the effects of food ingredients on canine intestinal function and health, and supports continued efforts to reduce and refine the use of animals in scientific research.
A random survey was performed by ORC International Telephone CARAVAN®, on 24–27 March 2016, by trained interviewers. The aim of this survey was to gain further understanding of public perceptions in the United States of laboratory animal use, specifically for the purposes of medical training. Five statements were read in random order to the participants, who were then asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement. Survey responses were obtained from 1011 participants. For the combined statements: “If effective non-animal methods are available to train a) medical students and physicians, b) emergency physicians and paramedics, and c) paediatricians, those methods should be used instead of live animals”, most respondents (82–83%) agreed. For the statement: “You want your doctor to be trained by using methods that replicate human anatomy instead of live animals”, most respondents (84%) agreed. For the statement: “If effective non-animal methods are available, it is morally wrong or unethical to use live animals to train medical students, physicians and paramedics”, 67% of respondents agreed. Responses were similar among the 15 pre-specified demographic subgroups. Given that effective non-animal training methods are readily available, the survey suggests that a substantial majority of the public wants the use of animals in medical training to cease.
The replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use in education is part of the regulatory legislation in Australia, and requires the use of alternatives to animals where appropriate. The aims of this study were: a) to explore the extent of the replacement of animals when teaching life sciences to Australian undergraduate students; b) to understand which alternative models were being used, and the learning objectives covered; and c) to gain some insight into the circumstances facilitating the use of alternatives to animals in education. An anonymous online survey, consisting of open and closed questions, was conducted among faculty members that used either animal or alternative models in their teaching. A total of 27 faculty members participated, from eight universities. Human anatomy and physiology had the highest number of survey participants who had replaced animals entirely with alternative models. These subjects also had the highest number of participants that were using animal models. According to the participants, most learning objectives were met effectively by both types of model. Participants who only used alternatives were influenced by ethical considerations significantly more than those who used animal models and alternatives. We concluded that, while some participants have replaced animals successfully, others in the same field are still employing them, and that there appears to be a range of barriers to the wider adoption of alternatives to animal use.
Dedicated clinical skills laboratories (CSLs) that make use of models, mannequins and simulators, are being increasingly established in medical and veterinary schools. These have been commonplace in medical schools for more than two decades, but their incorporation within the teaching of veterinary curricula has occurred much more recently. In 2007, a decision was taken to establish a CSL at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. We considered the range of skills that we wished to teach, the physical space and equipment needed, the storage and air conditioning requirements, the facilities needed to deliver PowerPoint lectures and case study presentations, and other essentials necessary to handle cadaver specimens. We converted an appropriate campus building to our needs, hired teaching staff, and started to source models and mannequins for the teaching of veterinary clinical skills. In 2010, 177 senior students completed a survey evaluating their experiences within our CSL. Student satisfaction was generally high, with 95% of respondents feeling that the CSL had improved their psychomotor skills. However, 15% of them felt that the models were insufficiently realistic. Our clinical skills programme has since developed considerably, and it currently offers instruction in a diverse array of surgical, medical and other clinical skills. We hope that this description of our experiences may assist others embarking on similar projects elsewhere.