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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.
Efforts toward replacing the use of animals in toxicology testing have begun to make significant headway in the last several years, due to co-operative and pragmatic efforts on the part of many stakeholders, and the public pressure that non-governmental advocacy organisations represent. Science-focused advocacy organisations have a unique role to play in these efforts, as they often have flexibility to adapt quickly to keep a project going and forge connections among different kinds of stakeholders to help encourage buy-in. This year, meaningful progress has been made, especially in regulatory laws and policies, which will lead to the replacement of animals in toxicology testing. In order to keep this momentum, we need to measure progress — but this requires improved transparency and regular reporting of animal use. In addition, we should consider how strategies that have successfully reduced and replaced animal use in toxicology can be applied to basic biomedical research practices.
Dariusz Sladowski and Marlies Halder
ECVAM has been given a special grant for collaborative projects on alternative/advanced testing methods involving eleven Candidate Countries for membership of the European Union (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). The project involves the promotion of the Three Rs (reduction, refinement, replacement) concept of Russell & Burch, in cooperation with appropriate individuals and national and international organisations in the Candidate Countries themselves, and elsewhere. The scope of the programme's activities covers: conferences in some of the Candidate Countries, workshops, training courses, training visits, and technology development/transfer initiatives. A database of contacts in the Candidate Countries and in relevant institutions in other countries, is being compiled.
Harald Schöffl, Stefan M. Froschauer, Karin M. Dunst, Dietmar Hager, Oskar Kwasny and Georg M. Huemer
Education and training in microsurgical techniques have historically relied on the use of live animal models. Due to an increase in the numbers of microsurgical operations in recent times, the number of trainees in this highly-specialised surgical field has continued to grow. However, strict legislation, greater public awareness, and an increasing sensitivity toward the ethical aspects of scientific research and medical education, emphatically demand a significant reduction in the numbers of animals used in surgical and academic education. Hence, a growing number of articles are reporting on the use of alternatives to live animals in microsurgical education and training. In this review, we report on the current trends in the development and use of microsurgical training models, and on their potential to reduce the number of live animals used for this purpose. We also share our experiences in this field, resulting from our performance of numerous microsurgical courses each year, over more than ten years. The porcine heart, in microvascular surgery training, and the fresh chicken leg, in microneurosurgical and microvascular surgery training, are excellent models for the teaching of basic techniques to the microsurgical novice. Depending on the selected level of expertise of the trainee, these alternative models are capable of reducing the numbers of live animals used by 80–100%. For an even more enhanced, “closer-to-real-life” scenario, these non-animated vessels can be perfused by a pulsatile pump. Thus, it is currently possible to provide excellent and in-depth training in microsurgical techniques, even when the number of live animals used is reduced to a minimum. With these new and innovative techniques, trainees are able to learn and prepare themselves for the clinical situation, with the sacrifice of considerably fewer laboratory animals than would have occurred previously.
The FRAME Reduction Steering Committee: Reflections on a Decade Devoted to Reducing Animal Use in Biomedical Science
Michelle Hudson and Bryan Howard
Established in 1998, the FRAME Reduction Committee (FRC) (now the FRAME Reduction Steering Committee [FRSC]) has continued to pursue its aim of reducing the number of animals used in biomedical science. Through its expertise in statistics, experimental design, animal welfare and research on alternatives, it has contributed to raising awareness of the need for reduction and the means of achieving and demonstrating it. In recognising the need for training of scientists to appreciate and understand the concept of reduction, the FRSC has organised dedicated workshops and training schools. Some of the Committee’s major achievements are described, and, bearing in mind the current year-on-year increases in the number of scientific procedures on animals, its future activities are outlined.
Alan M. Goldberg
On FRAME’s 40th anniversary, I had the opportunity to examine FRAME and CAAT’s missions as closely linked to those of their universities. The roles of education, research and service are key, both to the universities and to our two centres. By examining the current programmes, and identifying the needs of the future, the research activities, policy studies and training, it becomes clear that the Three Rs of alternatives contribute significantly to our respective universities’ missions.
Silvia Lapenna, Silke Gabbert and Andrew Worth
Current training needs on the use of alternative methods in predictive toxicology, including new approaches based on mode-of-action (MoA) and adverse outcome pathway (AOP) concepts, are expected to evolve rapidly. In order to gain insight into stakeholder preferences for training, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) conducted a single-question survey with twelve experts in regulatory agencies, industry, national research organisations, NGOs and consultancies. Stakeholder responses were evaluated by means of theory-based qualitative data analysis. Overall, a set of training topics were identified that relate both to general background information and to guidance for applying alternative testing methods. In particular, for the use of in silico methods, stakeholders emphasised the need for training on data integration and evaluation, in order to increase confidence in applying these methods for regulatory purposes. Although the survey does not claim to offer an exhaustive overview of the training requirements, its findings support the conclusion that the development of well-targeted and tailor-made training opportunities that inform about the usefulness of alternative methods, in particular those that offer practical experience in the application of in silico methods, deserves more attention. This should be complemented by transparent information and guidance on the interpretation of the results generated by these methods and software tools.