Category Archives: Press Releases

EARA website study shows much more progress is needed to improve openness on animal research in Portugal

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Portugal, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector is still some way from an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 50 institutional websites in Portugal, during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • Just over a quarter (26%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • However, around two thirds of websites assessed (62%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Just one in five (20%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

Currently, efforts to improve openness in Portugal are co-ordinated through a transparency agreement, which was launched last year by the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL), in collaboration with EARA, and is signed by 16 institutions.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to Portugal, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – France 32%, Germany 34%, Italy 39%, Spain 84% and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “The biomedical sector in Portugal has made progress through its transparency agreement, but much more can be done. Institutions should  make greater use of all the opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END


[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

EARA website study shows much more progress is needed to improve openness on animal research in Italy

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Italy, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector is still some way from an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 64 institutional websites in Italy during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • Around two in five (39%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • However, more than two thirds of websites assessed (66%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Fewer than one in five (17%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to Italy, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – France 32%, Germany 34%, Spain 84% and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We believe the sector in Italy needs to make greater use of all opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public. Whilst progress has been made by many institutions, much more could be done.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END


[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

EARA website study shows much more progress is needed to improve openness on animal research in Germany

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Germany, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector is still some way from an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 151 institutional websites in Germany during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • Just a third (34%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • Just over half the websites assessed (55%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Well under a third (28%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

A total of 1,219 institutional websiteswithin the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to Germany, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – France 32%, Italy 39%, Spain 84% and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We believe the sector in Germany needs to make greater use of all opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public. Whilst progress has been made by many institutions, much more could be done.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END


[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

EARA website study shows the Belgian biomedical sector must continue to improve openness on animal research

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Belgium, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector needs to continue to make progress towards an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 41 institutional websites in Belgium, during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • Just over half (56%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • Just over half of the websites assessed (56%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Just under a two thirds (61%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to Belgium, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – France 32%, Germany 34%, Italy 39%, Spain 84%, and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We believe the sector in Belgium needs to make greater use of all opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public. Whilst progress has been made by many institutions, much more could be done.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END


[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

EARA website study shows much more progress is needed to improve openness on animal research in France

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in France, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector is still some way from an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 191 institutional websites in France during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • Just under a third (32%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • However, more than two thirds of websites assessed (68%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Just over a third (37%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU[1] were assessed and the findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

In comparison to France, the percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research in other countries was – Germany 34%, Italy 39%, Spain 84% and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We believe the sector in France needs to make greater use of all opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public. While progress has been made by many institutions, much more could be done.

“Our view is that the websites of the institutions that we assessed will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research, their welfare and the benefits of biomedical science for humans and animals”

The study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

The website study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END


[1] A further 100 websites from non-EU countries were assessed.

Much more progress needed to improve openness on animal research in EU – EARA website study

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of more than a 1,000 websites across the EU, assessing how the biomedical sector talks about research using animals, has found that ‘the sector is still some way from an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research’.

The findings from the EARA Study of EU-based websites 2018 have now been presented to the EU Commission, which is currently examining the findings.

A total of 1,219 institutional websites within the EU were assessed, both public and private bodies, including universities and pharmaceutical companies, during 2018 and a rating system was developed to analyse the data which found that:

• Just under half (44%) of the institutions conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.

• Just over half the websites assessed (53%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.

• Well under a third (28%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

• Only just over a third (36%) of the websites assessed carry any imagery related to animal research.

• Around half the websites (49%) assessed featured some kind of case study on the animal research they support, fund or conduct.

• Fewer than a quarter (23%) of the websites in the sector provide ‘Extensive Information’ online, for instance, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or press releases.

Comparing some of the countries in the study, showed variations across the EU. The percentage of institutions that displayed a statement on the use of animals in research was – France 32%, Germany 34%, Italy 39%, Netherlands 15%, Spain 84%, and UK 95%.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We believe the sector needs to make greater use of all opportunities to be more accessible and to be more transparent with the public. Whilst progress has been made by many institutions, much more could be done.”

The study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.

EARA anticipates that institutional websites will play an increasingly important role in informing members of the public, media, decision-makers and regulators about the use of animals in research and the contribution of animal research to biomedical science. The website study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

Using the documentation and techniques developed in the course of this study, EARA intends in future years to revisit the websites involved and chart the improvement (or otherwise) of the institutional openness of the sector as a whole.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

END

Notes to editors

About EARA

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information. It also takes responsibility for the choice and sustainability in the global transport of animals for medical research. It has more than 60 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 14 European countries.

EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe.

The benefits of animal research
Most of the medicines we have come from animal research. Often science doesn’t need to use animals, but for many key questions they are crucial. They will help millions with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord damage and parasitic infections like malaria. There are three main reasons why animals are used in research:

• To advance scientific understanding,
• To develop solutions to medical problems,
• To test medicines and vaccines in order to protect the safety of people, animals and the environment.

Animals are used when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. It is very difficult, and in most cases simply not yet possible, to develop non-animal methods to replace the use of living animals.

A look back at recent biomedical breakthroughs thanks to animal research

On the eve of Biomedical Research Awaerness Day (BRAD 18 April), EARA looks back at some of the important medical advances over the last year that have involved research using animals.

Among the breakthroughs reported, that benefit both humans and animals, are:

  • Research using mice led to many new breakthroughs, such as multiple sclerosis research, at the University of Cambridge and to fight chronic pain using synthetic Botox at University College London, UK.
  • In surgical research on sheep at Lund University, Sweden, freeze-dried valves – later rehydrated for transplantation – were used in animal heart surgery for first time.
  • A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain, succeeded in curing pulmonary fibrosis disease in mice using a gene therapy.
  • In Belgium, researchers at EARA members VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven used mice to develop new antibacterial drugs.
  • Building on a technique developed in rats, Swiss researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, have announced that stimulating a person’s spinal cord can restore voluntary movement in some paralysed patients (see picture).

Scientists are also developing new biomedical treatments and techniques that replace, refine or reduce (3Rs) the use of animals in research.

  • A team from the University of Oxford, UK, and EARA member Janssen Pharmaceutica, Belgiumwon the International 3Rs Prize using a computer model that predicts accurately the risk of drug-induced heart arrhythmias in humans.

Animal research is integral to ongoing research in areas such as spinal cord repair, stem cell treatments (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), gene therapy (muscular dystrophy, diabetes) and molecularly targeted cancer medicines.
Historically, animal research has also led to new diagnostic tests for early treatment (cancer, heart disease); and effective treatments for serious illnesses (diabetes, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease).

The same research often helps humans and animals (treatments for arthritis, neurological disorders, organ transplants, cancer therapies) and contributes to farm animal welfare and techniques to save endangered species.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “Without the use of animals the pace of advances in biomedical research would be dramatically slower.

“Finding alternative methods to animal research, such as computer models and cell cultures are extremely important, but animal testing remains the safest and most effective way to produce drugs and treatments for us all.”

Cancer studies see rise in use of animals in Netherlands research

Increased biomedical research into cancer has seen a rise in the number of procedures using animals in the Netherlands, the latest statistics show.

The annual figures for 2017, show an overall increase in the number of animals used (in Dutch), with 530,568 procedures being conducted: 80,694 (17.9%) more than in 2016.

In 2017, more animal tests were conducted with zebrafish (research into anti-cancer drugs and an EU-funded project into hormone-disruptors that affect the human body) and mice (various investigations, particularly cancer research).

In addition, under a new EU reporting requirement, the number of animals that were bred, but were killed or died without being part of an animal test, was 448,252 animals, (see Additional Animals note).

The annual figures, have been released by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA) in line with the requirements of EU law and demonstrates the continuing commitment of the Netherlands’ biomedical sector to research, as well as observing the principles of the ‘3Rs’ (Replacement, Refinement, Reduction) in the use of animals.

Wilbert Frieling, of the Dutch animal reseach advocacy group SID, said: ‘The use of animals is essential for biomedical research into diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s and for vaccines – including the ones taken to protect us during overseas trips.

“Many of the cures and treatments we use today for conditions such as diabetes and pneumonia were made possible through the use of animals. The development of treatments and vaccines for animals also requires the experimental use of dogs and cats.’

Commenting on the figures, EARA Executive Director Kirk Leech said: ‘The publication of these figures shows that biomedical researchers in the Netherlands have nothing to hide. Behind each statistic is the story of basic research, of work towards combating disease and of improvements in human or veterinary medicine.’

END

Notes to editors

Additional animals
Additional animals are those animals which were killed in the research setting without ever having undergone a regulated procedure. Examples of why this may happen include:
• Animals bred for tissue samples
• Animals that were bred for research, but could not be used. Reasons include:
– They were the wrong sex for the research.
– They were involved in creating or maintaining genetically altered lines, but did not
express the required genetic alteration (i.e. were born as wild types).
– The number was over and above the numbers needed for the research study (litter sizes can be unpredictable).
• Animals used to sustain inbred colonies (this includes breeding stock and neonatal losses)
• ‘Sentinel animals’ used for health screening of other animals in the laboratory

About EARA
The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information. It has more than 70 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 15 European countries.
EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe.

EARA Communications Handbook launched

A guide on how to develop and implement a communications strategy on the use of animals in research has been published by the European Animal Research Association (EARA).

A free hard copy of the EARA Communications Handbook (in English only, cover price €375), along with an encrypted electronic version has been distributed exclusively to EARA member organisations.

The Handbook is intended to be shared with in-house research and communications professionals and includes a step-by-step guide to developing a long-term communications strategy and other advice on actions you can take to encourage a more balanced public debate on the issue of animal research.

There is also practical communications advice on how to handle those crisis situations that may occur.

EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, said: “We encourage all EARA institutions across Europe to implement the recommendations outlined in this manual and to engage with EARA for further support or advice.”

Organisations that are not EARA members can purchase the Handbook or arrange to discuss communications further by contacting Kirk Leech.

Chancellor Merkel backs new German research centre

The Max Delbrück Center (MDC), an EARA member, welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she opened its new research building in Berlin.

The building hosts the Berlin Institute for Molecular Systems Biology (BIMSB), as a second MDC campus, committed to research excellence and openness.

It is anticipated that it will host 250 researchers and 16 labs in the near future (see video of the opening).

Setting the scene for different scientific disciplines – biotechnology, computational science, molecular biology, clinical research – BIMSB leader Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky (pictured second left) promised a ‘radical approach to collaboration’.  

Chancellor Merkel viewed a ‘mini-brain’ (brain organoid) through a microscope and started a single-cell sequencing process with a computer.