Alternatives to Animal Use

Scientists using animals in scientific procedures have an ethical obligation to ensure that they REDUCE the number of animals used, REFINE the methods in order to minimize pain and distress, and REPLACE animals with alternative methods whenever possible (the 3 Rs). This should be applied at the beginning of a project and at regular intervals throughout the research period. Environmental enrichment is also an important factor.

Early planning for a project that might involve the use of living animals

  1. Define research objectives carefully.
  2. Gather information:
    • Conduct a literature search of subject-specific databases in order to avoid duplication and identify all possible methodological approaches.
    • Search specialized animal care / 3 R resources such as Internet discussion groups and mailing lists.
  3. Contact individuals with relevant expertise in new techniques in animal care.
  4. Ask the following questions:
    • Is the project still relevant and necessary?
    • Can it be done entirely without living animals? No animals can be used if alternates are available.
    • Can a pilot study or other part of the study be done without living animals? If yes, this should be undertaken. If not, implement reduction and refinement methods (e.g. strain, numbers, source, technique, husbandry and environmental enrichment).

The above was inspired by the "Focus on Alternatives" committee, FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments).