This article is reprinted from the Utrecht 3Rs newsletter, with the message of Jan Langermans, Professor ‘Welfare of Laboratory Animals’ at Utrecht University and also deputy director of Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Netherlands, on welfare improvement of animals used in research.
More attention to the welfare improvement of laboratory animals. That is the message prof. dr. Jan Langermans wants to propagate. He was recently appointed professor ‘Welfare of Laboratory Animals’ at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University. He will focus on the welfare improvement of larger animals used for scientific purposes.
“In those fields of research where we cannot move forward without laboratory animals, we have to invest in the highest possible welfare standards” says Langermans. “This is an essential part of responsible use of animals for research.” He emphasizes that with refinement, he does not only mean the reduction of pain and discomfort, but also the introduction of positive aspects that contribute to a positive welfare state. For example, simple improvements in food or cage enrichment and creating positive associations with the experimental procedures by means of training can make a huge difference in the quality of life of these animals. Three themes on which he wants to focus are the training of laboratory animals, the introduction of enrichment under experimental conditions and the use of innovative techniques to improve welfare and reduce the number of animals needed for research.
Training both animals and researchers
“An important question that people who work with laboratory animals must continuously ask themselves is: how can we improve the circumstances for these animals?” says Langermans. Continue reading →
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).
In response to calls to reduce the number of experiments with non-human primates (NHP) by up to 40% in the Netherlands the Dutch Parliament has now reached a compromise.
In two motions, the parliament acknowledged the importance of animal research (including NHP) for scientific and medical progress and has stated that the 40% reduction should relate to commercial research, a goal supported by the Biomedical Primate Research Center, which has been the focus of these controversial proposals.
In addition, responding to calls that NHP research should be centralised in the Netherlands, the Parliament said that this should only be done if the facilities agreed to the proposal themselves.
EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “It is good to see that the Dutch Parliament has recognised the value of primate research in the country and is working with the sector to adopt proposals that are workable”
EARA has responded to a call by the Dutch Science Minister for the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC), in the Netherlands, an EARA member, to draw up a proposal, by the beginning of next year, to reduce the number of experiments with no-human primates (NHP) by up to 40%.
Ahead of a debate, which took place in the Netherlands House of Representatives earlier this month, EARA wrote to Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science and Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, urging them not to set an artificial limit on the number of NHP used in research.
The letter, written by EARA, said that any reduction was “highly likely to severely limit the progress that can be made in both fundamental research and the development of innovative medicines and treatments for life-threatening diseases and infectious disease control”.
Currently the main areas of primate study are infectious diseases, neuroscience and fertility and foetal research. Primates are an important model for the development of vaccines and treatments for HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika and malaria and for investigations into treatments for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to Schizophrenia. They are also used in safety testing for new medicines and vaccines. Continue reading →
The 13th annual FELASA Congress will be taking place in Brussels from June 13-16. With sessions discussing a wide range of topics in animal research, it is the place to be for information sharing on best practices in laboratory animal science, welfare and policy. Continue reading →
Last week, the Dutch Parliament passed a motion supported by all parties asking Government to investigate completely phasing out non-human primate research at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC) and other research centres. Continue reading →
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA) published Zo doende 2014, its annual report of animal research in the Netherlands, yesterday. The number of animals used is 17.9% higher than in 2013. Despite the annual report containing revised numbers for 2013, direct comparison is difficult due to new reporting requirements following on from the European Directive 2010/63/EU. Continue reading →