Recurrent acute and/or chronic stress can affect all vertebrate species, and can have serious consequences. It is increasingly and widely appreciated that laboratory animals experience significant and repeated stress, which is unavoidable and is caused by many aspects of laboratory life, such as captivity, transport, noise, handling, restraint and other procedures, as well as the experimental procedures applied to them. Such stress is difficult to mitigate, and lack of significant desensitisation/habituation can result in considerable psychological and physiological welfare problems, which are mediated by the activation of various neuroendocrine networks that have numerous and pervasive effects. Psychological damage can be reflected in stereotypical behaviours, including repetitive pacing and circling, and even self-harm. Physical consequences include adverse effects on immune function, inflammatory responses, metabolism, and disease susceptibility and progression. Further, some of these effects are epigenetic, and are therefore potentially transgenerational: the biology of animals whose parents/grandparents were wild-caught and/or have experienced chronic stress in laboratories could be altered, as compared to free-living individuals. It is argued that these effects must have consequences for the reliability of experimental data and their extrapolation to humans, and this may not be recognised sufficiently among those who use animals in experiments.
Attitudes Toward the Use of Animals in Chronic versus Acute Pain Research: Results of a Web-based Forum
Elisabeth H. Ormandy and Gilly Griffin
When asked about the use of animals in biomedical research, people often state that the research is only acceptable if pain and distress are minimised. However, pain is caused when the aim is to study pain itself, resulting in unalleviated pain for many of the animals involved. Consequently, the use of animals in pain research is often considered contentious. To date, no research has explored people's views toward different types of animal-based pain research (e.g. chronic or acute pain). This study used a web-based survey to explore people's willingness to support the use of mice in chronic versus acute pain research. The majority of the participants opposed the use of mice for either chronic (68.3%) or acute (63.1%) pain research. There was no difference in the levels of support or opposition for chronic versus acute pain research. Unsupportive participants justified their opposition by focusing on the perceived lack of scientific merit, or the existence of non-animal alternatives. Supporters emphasised the potential benefits that could arise, with some stating that the benefits outweigh the costs. The majority of the participants were opposed to pain research involving mice, regardless of the nature and duration of the pain inflicted, or the perceived benefit of the research. A better understanding of public views toward animal use in pain research may provide a stronger foundation for the development of policy governing the use of animals in research where animals are likely to experience unalleviated pain.
First Thoughts on the Effects on the Protection of Laboratory Animals of the UK’s Departure from the European Union
Directive 2010/63/EU led to improvements to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986: it is hoped that these improvements will be maintained, and that special attention will be paid to the use of non-human primates and dogs
The Use of a Decision Tree Based on the Rabies Diagnosis Scenario, to Assist the Implementation of Alternatives to Laboratory Animals
Vanessa Carli Bones and Carla Forte Maiolino Molento
Brazilian federal legislation makes the use of alternatives mandatory, when there are validated methods to replace the use of laboratory animals. The objective of this paper is to introduce a novel decision tree (DT)-based approach, which can be used to assist the replacement of laboratory animal procedures in Brazil. This project is based on a previous analysis of the rabies diagnosis scenario, in which we identified certain barriers that hinder replacement, such as: a) the perceived higher costs of alternative methods; b) the availability of staff qualified in these methods; c) resistance to change by laboratory staff; d) regulatory obstacles, including incompatibilities between the Federal Environmental Crimes Act and specific norms and working practices relating to the use of laboratory animals; and e) the lack of government incentives. The DT represents a highly promising means to overcome these reported barriers to the replacement of laboratory animal use in Brazil. It provides guidance to address the main obstacles, and, followed step-by-step, would lead to the implementation of validated alternative methods (VAMs), or their development when such alternatives do not exist. The DT appears suitable for application to laboratory animal use scenarios where alternative methods already exist, such as in the case of rabies diagnosis, and could contribute to increase compliance with the Three Rs principles in science and with the current legal requirements in Brazil.
A Training Course on Laboratory Animal Science: An Initiative to Implement the Three Rs of Animal Research in India
Kunal Pratap and Vijay Pal Singh
There is a current need for a change in the attitudes of researchers toward the care and use of experimental animals in India. This could be achieved through improvements in the provision of training, to further the integration of the Three Rs concept into scientific research and into the regulations of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). A survey was performed after participants undertook the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA) Category C-based course on Laboratory Animal Science (in 2013 and 2015). It revealed that the participants subsequently employed, in their future research, the practical and theoretical Three Rs approaches that they had learned. This is of great importance in terms of animal welfare, and also serves to benefit their research outcomes extensively. All the lectures, hands-on practical sessions and supplementary elements of the courses, which also involved the handling of small animals and procedures with live animals, were well appreciated by the participants. Insight into developments in practical handling and welfare procedures, norms, directives, and ethical use of laboratory animals in research, was also provided, through the comparison of results from the 2013 and 2015 post-course surveys.
Comparative Costs of the Mouse Inoculation Test (MIT) and Virus Isolation in Cell Culture (VICC) for Use in Rabies Diagnosis in Brazil
Vanessa C. Bones, Augusto H. Gameiro, Juliana G. Castilho and Carla F.M. Molento
The decision to use laboratory animals rather than in vitro methods is frequently based on the financial costs involved, so the objective of our study was to compare the costs of performing the Mouse Inoculation Test (MIT) and Virus Isolation in Cell Culture (VICC) for use in rabies diagnosis in Brazil. Based on observations of laboratory routines at the Pasteur Institute, São Paulo, we listed the fixed cost (FC) and variable cost (VC) items necessary to perform both tests. Considering that 200 MITs are equivalent to 350 VICC assays, in terms of facilities and staff-hours needed per month, we calculated, for both tests, the average total cost per sample, the costs of the implementation of the laboratory structure, and the costs of routine use. With regard to absolute values, the total cost was mainly influenced by FC items, as they represented 60% of the cost for the MIT and 86% of the cost for VICC. A sample analysed by the MIT costs around 205% more than one analysed by using VICC. The MIT costs 74% and 406% more than VICC, when implementation costs and routine use per month, respectively, are taken into account. Our results can assist in the resolution of costing disputes that could hinder the replacement of animals for rabies diagnosis in Brazil. The method demonstrated here might also be useful for cost comparisons in other situations where animal use still continues when validated alternatives exist.
How Long Must They Suffer? Success and Failure of our Efforts to End the Animal Tragedy in Laboratories
Scientific findings have revealed how much we have dramatically underestimated the intellectual, social and emotional capabilities of non-human animals, including their levels of self-consciousness and ability to suffer from psychological stress. In the 21st century, the field of animal ethics has evolved as a serious scientific discipline, and nowadays largely advocates that the way we treat animals, both legally and in practice, is morally wrong. Politics and legislation have reacted to these facts, to some extent, but neither current legislation nor current practice reflect the scientific and moral state-of-the-art. Too often, the will to change things is watered down in the decision-making process, e.g. in the drafting of legislation. In the field of animal experimentation there have been many genuine efforts by various players, to advance and apply the principles behind the Three Rs. However, the fundamental problem, i.e. the overall number of animals sacrificed for scientific purposes, has increased. Clearly, if we are serious about our will to regard animal experimentation as an ethical and societal problem, we have to put much more emphasis on addressing the question of how to avoid the use of animals in science. To achieve this goal, certain issues need to be considered: a) the present system of ethical evaluation of animal experiments, including testing for regulatory purposes, needs to be reformed and applied effectively to meet the legal and moral requirements; b) animal testing must be avoided in future legislation, and existing legislation has to be revised in that regard; c) resources from animal-based research have to re-allocated toward alternatives; and d) the academic curricula must be reformed to foster and integrate ethical and animal welfare issues.
The delivery of the UK Government's and Concordat's commitments to greater openness on animal research is eagerly awaited. Meanwhile, the questions raised by two studies on the use of animal tests to predict the toxic effects of drugs in humans should be answered. Procedures applied to protected laboratory animals, which may cause them pain, suffering, distress and or lasting harm, are only morally acceptable, and should only be legally permissible, if they are scientifically justifiable.
Vanessa C. Bones, Heloísa C. Clemente, Daniel M. Weary and Carla F.M. Molento
The use of laboratory animals is still common practice, but some uses can be replaced by alternative methods, such as Virus Isolation in Cell Culture (VICC) instead of the Mouse Inoculation Test (MIT) for rabies diagnosis. The objective of this work was to describe current rabies diagnosis methods in Brazil and other countries, and the constraints associated with replacing this use of mice with alternative methods. Nine out of 12 Brazilian and 14 out of 43 non-Brazilian respondents reported that they currently used the MIT. Respondents in countries other than Brazil, male respondents, and those already employing in vitro methods for rabies diagnosis, expressed higher levels of support for the use of alternatives. The most frequently reported constraints associated with the use of alternatives were lack of laboratory facilities, equipment and materials (cited 17 times by respondents), and lack of financial resources (cited 15 times). The results indicate that many laboratories continue to use mice for rabies diagnosis. The proportion of laboratories that use mice appears to be especially high in Brazil, despite animal protection laws and technical guidelines that favour the use of alternatives. The barriers to the adoption of alternative methods identified in the current study provide a basis for facilitating changes in Brazil and elsewhere.