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Reduction, Replacement, Refinement

Fifty years ago, two British scientists, William Russell and Rex Burch, published a book entitled The Principles of Humane Experimental Research (1). This book paved the way for an ethos now shared by many scientists, namely that there is a fundamental obligation on those who conduct experiments on sentient species to ensure that harm is kept to an absolute minimum. Here we look at how animal testing can be reduced in the context of the current research and testing climate.

DRIVING FORCES THAT INFLUENCE ANIMAL TESTING

Many factors influence trends in the use of animals in research, testing and training, including the societal, economic, and political and market climates. For instance, concerns over the safety of chemicals that, in some cases, have been in common use for many decades, has culminated in the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation that threatens to demand the conduct of around four million animal tests for existing chemicals. The mere existence of the REACH legislation is a reflection of the increasing threat of litigation that has stemmed from improved public and scientific awareness of the potential harm caused by everyday exposure to chemicals. By the same token, societal pressure is a major factor in determining the provisions of the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC that, by 2013, will prohibit testing of cosmetic and toiletry ingredients and that has already banned the EU marketing of products tested on animals. The provisions of the Cosmetics Directive have spurred the cosmetics industry to develop non-animal methods to replace animal tests. Similarly, the REACH legislation, with its tight implementation timelines and disconcerting animal welfare and financial burden, has encouraged stakeholders to examine how existing non-animal alternatives and information can be used to best effect.


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Nirmala Bhogal graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Pharmacology, a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a postgraduate degree in Law. Her expertise is in the preclinical development of small chemical drugs and protein hormone mimetics. Nirmala joined FRAME in 2004 and currently oversees the FRAME Research Programme, working closely with scientists within the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory based at the University of Nottingham. Her area of research focuses on the evaluation of medicinal products.

Rita Seabra graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Glamorgan, South Wales and undertook her PhD in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham. Her research career included work on wound healing. Her interests at FRAME include systems biology, immune modulation and genetically-altered animals.

Michelle Hudson graduated from the University of Sheffield with a Master degree in Zoology. Her main research interests are the application of methods to reduce the number of animals used in experiments, the refinement and regulation of animal procedures and the replacement of laboratory non-human primates.

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Nirmala Bhogal
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Rita Seabra
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Michelle Hudson
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