The objective of this review is to report on whether, and if so, how, scientific research projects organised and managed within collaborative consortia across academia and industry are contributing to the Three Rs (i.e. reduction, replacement and refinement of the use of animals in research). A number of major technological developments have recently opened up possibilities for more direct, human-based approaches leading to a reassessment of the role and use of experimental animals in pharmacological research and biomedicine. This report reviews how projects funded by one of the research funding streams, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), are contributing to a better understanding of the challenges faced in using animal models. It also looks how the results from these various projects are impacting on the continued use of laboratory animals in research and development. From the progress identified, it is apparent that the approach of private–public partnership has demonstrated the value of multicentre studies, and how the spirit of collaboration and sharing of information can help address human health challenges. In so doing, this approach can reduce the dependence on animal use in areas where it has normally been viewed as necessary. The use of a collaborative platform enables the Three Rs to be addressed on multiple different levels, such that the selection of models to be tested, the protocols to be followed, and the interpretation of results generated, can all be optimised. This will, in turn, lead to an overall reduction in the use of laboratory animals.
Lynne U. Sneddon
Reducing pain in animals is an ethical and sometimes legal requirement, but how do we assess pain and does it confound data collection?
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.
Elliot Lilley, Penny Hawkins and Maggy Jennings
Ending severe suffering is a desirable goal for both ethical and scientific reasons. The RSPCA has pledged to work toward the end of such suffering for laboratory animals, and in this article we outline a practical approach that establishments can follow to achieve this aim.
David B. Morton
Ruud van den Bos, Klaske J. van der Horst, Annemarie M. Baars and Berry M. Spruijt
A study in which the rat social discrimination test was refined is described. This test measures social memory by using, in general, juvenile rats as stimulus animals. Rats are offered a first juvenile to investigate (learning trial), and after a specified interval, the rats are offered the same rat and a second juvenile rat to investigate again (retrieval trial). When the rats sniff the second juvenile in the retrieval trial more than the first, social memory for the first juvenile is said to be present. This test is mainly based on scents from the juvenile. Attempts were made to refine the test to reduce the number of animals used, to enhance the scope of the test, and to improve its validity. Firstly, the stimulus animals were replaced by the scent of juveniles, in the form of cups filled with sawdust taken from cages of juvenile rats. Similar results to those in the original test were obtained when using these scents. Furthermore, male and female scents were tested, and showed the same results as for the juvenile scents. Secondly, rats were also given two cups (one scent-filled and one filled with plain sawdust) in the learning trial, to determine which allowed a more-precise delineation of motivational, discriminatory and memory components. Overall, it is possible to replace stimulus animals by scent-filled cups in the social discrimination test, to enhance the scope of the test, and to draw more-valid conclusions with respect to social memory.