Meaghan Loy, MS, ALAT, SOT Associate Member and Category Director of In Vivo Services at Scientist.com reflects on a recent 3-part webinar series focusing on animal welfare within scientific research.

At Scientist.com we take our commitment to animal welfare very seriously. Whether through due diligence, compliance or education, we support efforts to advance animal welfare. To further this aim, we recently hosted a three-part educational series on the 3Rs of Animals in Research—Replacement, Reduction and Refinement—which are key factors in improving animal welfare in all types of research. Replacing animals with in vitro or in silico methods, reducing the numbers of animals used and refining procedures to reduce pain and distress are all critical to overall welfare. The 3Rs help us fulfill our moral and ethical obligations to the animals that have allowed many of the most important modern medical advances to occur.

As straightforward as the 3Rs may sound, they can present a unique set of challenges upon implementation. It’s easy to continue conducting the same tried and true studies, but there are many recent innovations that researchers may not be aware of. To shed more light on this topic we collaborated with the UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). This group focuses on innovations in each of the 3Rs and supports researchers in many ways, including CRACK IT, an open innovation program. Each installment of the series was co-hosted by Dr. Sam Jackson from the NC3Rs for an introduction to the corresponding R as well as real-world examples of application.

We were also joined by registered Scientist.com suppliers that exemplify the values of the 3Rs and offer relevant solutions for their clients. For Replacement, Chiwan Chiang, MSc of Mimetas discussed their groundbreaking OrganoPlate® platform. This system allows organs or even entire animals to be replaced with their in vitro plate method. One Mimetas plate can replace up to 96 animals while still providing powerful data.

Next, Dr. Tseten Jamling of Hera BioLabs presented on Reduction. The company’s OncoRat model allows for up to 90% reduction in the number of animals used to establish or expand PDX. In one case, a xenograft study using the OncoRat reduced animal numbers from 208 to 42.

Finally, Dr. Alex Wakefield of Sinclair Research gave a wonderful overview of Refinement. Dr. Wakefield covered considerations for technicians, researchers and veterinarians alike while providing practical tips for running successful studies. This highlighted the idea that the focus on reduction of pain and suffering and improvement of overall welfare does not have to rest solely with one party.

Feedback and questions should be submitted to meaghan@scientist.com