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The Three Rs

The Three Rs

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Published by: Insih Sonia Fernandez on Dec 18, 2012
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The three Rs

The welfare of animals used in research is very important. There are good ethical, scientific, legal and economic reasons for making sure that animals are looked after properly and used in minimum numbers. The people who work in laboratories – scientists, vets, animal carers – are human beings like everyone else and have no desire to mistreat animals. For many of them it is their primary responsibility to look after the animals, and they work with laboratory animals because they are animal lovers. Many are also actively involved in developing scientific methods to reduce the need for animals or replace them entirely. Good science and good animal welfare go hand in hand. If an animal is suffering stress or pain it could affect the results of the research. So it makes good scientific sense to house animals in the best possible conditions and make sure they get the best possible care from skilled and experienced carers. What animals need is not always the same as what people think they need, so scientists are studying which environments different animals prefer. The guiding principles underpinning the humane use of animals in scientific research are called the three Rs. Any researcher planning to use animals in their research must first show why there is no alternative and what will be done to minimise numbers and suffering, ie:
  

Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoid the use of animals altogether. Reduce the number of animals used to a minimum, to obtain information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals. Refine the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. This includes better housing and improvements to procedures which minimise pain and suffering and/or improve animal welfare.

Combining the three Rs In some cases it is possible to develop a whole new way of conducting a test involving fewer animals. For example, the LD50 test was used for many years to find out how toxic chemicals

          Research on animals is not relevant to people because animals are different from people. cures or treatments for AIDS. See also our FAQs. to do the same job but using fewer animals and designed so that none intentionally received a fatal dose. The side-effects and subsequent withdrawal of the arthritis treatment Vioxx were due to animal tests. There is an endless list of drugs that have to be withdrawn because of side effects and these side effects are a major cause of hospital deaths. Systematic reviews demonstrate that animal studies are meaningless for human health. Animal testing doesn’t work and causes drug side effects. . Myths and facts Here we list more than 20 common misconceptions about animal research and provide some facts to help you make up your mind on where you stand. Medicines that work in people are toxic to animals and vice versa. And a recent review conducted by the pharmaceutical industry showed that much of the data from single dose acute toxicity tests in rodents can be collected from other tests. meaning that fewer rodents are required in the development of new medicines. 25 years of primate research has failed to find vaccines.are. The clinical trial tragedy (testing the medicine TGN1412) at Northwick Park shows that animal tests don't work. Scientists developed better tests. Animal research on animals is not relevant because people and animals suffer from different illnesses. The LD50 is now banned in the UK. Animal research doesn’t work and hasn’t made any contribution to medical progress.

Most research animals are cats. Laboratory animals suffer great pain and distress. Researchers do not care about the well-being of laboratory animals.org. Many pointless. Animals are used for testing cosmetics. Animal research is a cheap and easy option and is carried out for profit. . dogs or monkeys.uk/how/myths-and-facts/ Home / How do we do research with animals? / Myths and facts Myths and facts Here we list more than 20 common misconceptions about animal research and provide some facts to help you make up your mind on where you stand. http://www.           Animals don’t need to be used in research because there are alternatives. unnecessary animal experiments are carried out. Public health measures such as clean water and good sanitation are the solution to the problem of infectious disease. Vaccines and antibiotics have achieved nothing.understandinganimalresearch. Microdosing can replace animal safety tests. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can now be used on humans to get the same level of information as invasive brain studies in animals.  Research on animals is not relevant to people because animals are different from people. See also our FAQs. There are no laws or regulations protecting laboratory animals.

The side-effects and subsequent withdrawal of the arthritis treatment Vioxx were due to animal tests. Animals don’t need to be used in research because there are alternatives.             Animal research on animals is not relevant because people and animals suffer from different illnesses. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can now be used on humans to get the same level of information as invasive brain studies in animals. Microdosing can replace animal safety tests. . Vaccines and antibiotics have achieved nothing. Animal research doesn’t work and hasn’t made any contribution to medical progress. The clinical trial tragedy (testing the medicine TGN1412) at Northwick Park shows that animal tests don't work. Systematic reviews demonstrate that animal studies are meaningless for human health. 25 years of primate research has failed to find vaccines. cures or treatments for AIDS. There is an endless list of drugs that have to be withdrawn because of side effects and these side effects are a major cause of hospital deaths. Animal testing doesn’t work and causes drug side effects. Public health measures such as clean water and good sanitation are the solution to the problem of infectious disease. Medicines that work in people are toxic to animals and vice versa.

Most research animals are cats. then anaesthetics and pain relief will be given whenever appropriate. The research then has to be approved by Home Office Inspectors. who are all doctors or vets and who ensure that high welfare standards are applied. dogs or monkeys. There are no laws or regulations protecting laboratory animals. Researchers do not care about the well-being of laboratory animals. Any animal suffering undue pain or distress that cannot be alleviated must be put down immediately and painlessly: this is the law. If more invasive procedures are necessary. Animal research is a cheap and easy option and is carried out for profit. It is in researchers’ interests to make sure animals suffer as little as possible.     Many pointless. or having a change of diet. stressed animals are less likely to produce reliable results. unnecessary animal experiments are carried out. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can now be used on humans to get the same level of information as invasive brain studies in animals.  Laboratory animals suffer great pain and distress. giving a single injection. . Most animal research involves mild procedures such as taking a blood sample. All animal research must pass an ethical evaluation which weighs up its pros and cons and decides whether it is justified.

Animal tests show how the medicine reacts in the living body and detect toxic effects before it is given to human volunteers. The animal tests aim to reveal major undesirable effects such as liver damage. Human clinical trials will involve testing a potential drug on 3-5. But it does not give anything like the same level of detailed information that can be achieved by painlessly inserting electrodes into brain tissue in animal or human studies Animal testing doesn’t work and causes drug side effects. a medicine given by mouth may be altered by digestion. Problems that will not be revealed by test tube results will often show up in animal tests. It is obviously important. raised blood pressure. to find out about potential problems before medicines are given to human volunteers and patients in clinical trials.000 human volunteers and patients.000 patients) shows up only after this stage. then it is difficult to see how it could have been spotted before. The results will give a strong indication of what the effects in people are likely to be. .Functional MRI (fMRI) measures blood flow in different parts of the brain. If a side effect (affecting say 1 in 10. and is required by law. It can be used in human volunteers without ill effect. or damage to the fetus. nerve damage. Animals don’t need to be used in research because there are alternatives. For instance. Medicines are only tested on animals after extensive screening by computer and test tube methods. becoming less effective or more toxic. The new medicine will be tested on around 15 times as many human volunteers as animals.

We cannot yet reproduce complex diseases in a cell culture. In other areas. use of animals for dissection in schools etc. it may be possible to reduce further the numbers of animals used in some areas. to minimise the number of animals used. Thus the number of research animals used annually in the UK has almost halved in the last 30 years. By law. FAQs What is the scope of Understanding Animal Research? Understanding Animal Research engages in the UK public debate about the use of animals in medical research. GM foods. Most research is already carried out using these other methods. rather than secondary sources such as review articles or books. human cloning. For information on advances in science and medicine. which can be misleading. Where does Understanding Animal Research get its information from? We try to make sure that all our information comes from reliable sources. The living body is much more than just a collection of its parts. As science progresses. We do not get involved in related issues such as cosmetics testing (which is no longer carried out in the UK). Scientists have strong ethical. to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. we need to understand how they interact. Why are animals used in research? There are three main reasons: . get a computer to cough. we usually refer to peer-reviewed original research papers in the scientific and medical journals. because the facts should form the basis for debate. We also refer to the very detailed figures on the use of animals in research that are published every year by the UK government. Humans can only be used in limited situations. But we still need to use animals at some point. The guiding principles in animal research today are called the three Rs: Refinement. or examine a whole beating heart in a test-tube. the numbers of animals may increase. We believe it is very important to get the facts right. economic and legal obligations to use animals in research only when necessary. Reduction. to replace animals with non-animal techniques wherever possible. animals must not be used in a research project if viable non-animal techniques are available. Replacement.

but they are really complementary methods that are used alongside . insulin for diabetes. Animals are used when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole living body. particularly mammals. hip replacements. controlled by the same nerves and hormones. We have the same organs. as many other species. people. and such differences can actually help scientific understanding of a particular problem. to develop non animal methods to replace the use of living animals. Once non-animal methods have been developed and validated. We also need to use animals in safety testing to protect people. and are accepted by the regulatory authorities world wide. Are animals too different from people for animal research to be valid? Obviously there are differences between animals and people. Are there alternatives to using animals in research and testing? It has proved very difficult to develop non-animal methods to replace the use of animals in research and testing. working in universities. and high tech equipment. and the research must be carried out in licensed premises.Animal experiments are just one method in biological and medical research . then they must be used in preference to the animal tests. In other cases. It is very difficult. etc. scientists. to protect the safety of people. Who uses animals in research? Most people carrying out the research are doctors. Has animal research contributed to medicine? Almost every major medical advance has depended on the use of animals at some stage in its research. organ transplants. and in most cases simply not yet possible. animals and the environment. Examples include antibiotics. Everyone who uses animals in research must have the necessary skills and training. hospitals. research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. tissues. Where there are differences. Most progress has been made in the replacement of animals in safety testing. But under the skin. researchers know about them. anaesthetics. vets or trained animal carers. development or testing. Is animal research necessary? We would be very unlikely to achieve many significant advances in scientific understanding or the prevention and treatment of diseases without animal research. animals and the environment. Some people regard these methods as alternatives. which is far more complex than the sum of its parts.Many animals suffer quite naturally from the same diseases as humans. to develop solutions to medical problems. researchers can use an 'animal model' of a disease which is close to the human condition. is remarkably similar. and can be used to study those diseases.   To advance scientific understanding.research can also be done using cells. the biology of humans and other animals.

What animals are used in research? Over three quarters of animals used in research are rodents . Replacement means that non-animal alternatives are used whenever possible.mice and rats. fed and cared for. birds. How is animal welfare protected in the laboratory? Researchers have good ethical. There are also international regulations such as the European Directive 86/609. Do animals suffer in research? Most animal research involves little more than injections. The strict controls under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 were added to in April 1999 with the introduction of the Local Ethical Review Process for animal research. This is slightly less than the number of procedures (3. feeding or breeding studies. Pain and distress must be minimised and the UK controls state that there must be a vet on call at all times. taking small blood samples. rabbits and larger mammals such as pigs and sheep are also used. Fish. Refinement means that animals are looked after properly and any pain or distress minimised. It is estimated that worldwide up to 60 million animals are used in research every year. scientific and legal reasons to treat laboratory animals well and use them in minimum numbers. All animals must be properly housed. These controls also make sure that any animal suffering severe pain which cannot be alleviated is put down immediately. Cats. How many animals are used in research? In 2010 (the last year for which figures are available) a total of 3. The UK is the only country in the world to have both systems running at the same time. If animals undergo surgery. they get anaesthetics just like human patients. dogs and monkeys together make up only about 2 in every 1000 research animals. Animal research and testing accounts for a small propoortion of all biomedical research and testing. Usually they depend on either a local system (which may be voluntary) or on national controls administered by the government.    Reduction means that numbers of animals are minimised.72 million) as animals are sometimes allowed to be used more than once.64 million animals were used in the UK.animal research to answer different sorts of questions. Pain . How is animal research regulated? Laws around the world vary. amphibians. What are the three Rs in animal research? The three Rs are the guiding principles in animal research.

Is it ethical for humans to experiment on animals? Most people accept that. Was thalidomide tested on animals? Animal rights groups often blame the thalidomide tragedy on animal testing. and that people have responsibilities towards animals to make sure they are properly cared for. Drugs are usually tested on many more people than animals. in circuses etc. the same birth defects would have shown up in the animals . Do animals have rights? There are some people who believe that animals have equivalent rights to human beings. so guinea pigs and humans react in very similar ways.and thalidomide would never have been used by pregnant women. not at doses equivalent to those taken by people. Is penicillin toxic to guinea pigs? No. But. Is it right to deny these treatments to the patients who are suffering now and in the future? That would be the result if animal research were to be abolished immediately as called for by the animal rights groups. hence the animal rights claim that penicillin is toxic to guinea pigs. if you are studying diseases such as cancer or arthritis which cause pain and suffering for patients. Clearly. it is . sometimes the research will cause animals to suffer. This acceptance of the animal welfare ethic is quite different from giving animals equivalent rights to humans.as they did subsequently . If it had been. So thalidomide was never tested on pregnant animals before being prescribed to pregnant women. most do not believe that animals have such rights. animal tests and human trials.killers are given where appropriate and pain must always be minimised. This would rule out their use as food. the toxic effects seen in guinea pigs after very large doses are very similar to an effect sometimes seen in patients on long-term penicillin. If we stopped using animals. If side effects show up only after the drug has been marketed and prescribed to hundreds of thousands of people. as about 90% of people in most cultures eat meat. In fact. Some animal rights activists even believe that keeping animals as pets is like slavery. then it is difficult to see where the solutions to today's medical problems are going to come from. Why can't animal testing eliminate drug side effects? Safety testing of new drugs involves non-animal tests. The animal tests provide vital information which prevents the poisoning of human volunteers who take part in trials. At that time (in the 1950s) it was not known for a drug to affect the fetus without affecting the mother. Early studies showed that very large doses of impure penicillin caused toxic effects in guinea pigs. if animals are looked after properly in laboratories. Most people accept that animals have a right to be treated humanely. for clothing. then it is ethically acceptable to use animals in medical research. and used in minimum numbers only when necessary.

animal welfare groups. Most procedures (69% in the UK) are so mild that giving an anaesthetic would mean more suffering than the experiment itself. as most animal research does not involve surgery. Imagine having your leg amputated (which was not uncommon .because they are very rare. many abolitionist groups use the word vivisection to mean all research involving living animals. We believe it is right that people should hear all sides before making up their minds. . All cats and dogs used in research must be specially bred by licensed breeders. What does vivisection mean? The literal meaning of the word vivisection is cutting living flesh. In fact nearly all animals used in research must be obtained from licensed breeders and suppliers. However. regulatory authorities etc When did animal experimentation start? The famous Greek doctor Galen (AD129-200) studied animals. so we have provided a page of links including the web sites of animal rights groups. Why do only one third of experimental animals get anaesthetics? Anaesthesia is used to prevent suffering. So rare that the human trials on several thousand people would not discover them. The literal definition could even apply to human surgery. as did patients. But it was very different then . What do most doctors and scientists think about animal research? All properly-conducted surveys of doctors and scientists show that the vast majority agree that animal research is vital to advance medicine and protect our safety.there were no anaesthetics or effective pain killers. The 'modern' era of animal research started about 150 years ago with the rise of physiology as a science. Are pets stolen for research? There is absolutely no evidence that stolen pets are used in research in the UK. Where can I find different views about animal research? We recognise there are different views in the public debate about animal research.infections could be very serious before antibiotics) without anaesthetic. so the animals suffered a great deal. It is not a very accurate description of animal research. William Harvey used animals 400 years ago to discover how blood circulated in the body. groups developing replacement methods.

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