Discovering ways to reduce, refine and replace the use of animals in research

Posted on September 21, 2011 by


My colleague was visiting the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) yesterday and has brought me back their fabulous research review. It’s worth a look if you’re interested in seeing some actual examples of projects they have funded into new models of disease and some of the new research this has enabled into better  understanding conditions like multiple sclerosis, asthma and spinal cord injury either without using animals or improving the welfare of animals involved.


The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) was set up in 2004 as an independent organisation to both support the UK science base to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals in research and to fund research into replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research.

The government recently launched a new programme, being led by the NC3Rs, aiming to reduce the use of animals in scientific research and end the testing of household products in animals. They pledged to do this in the coalition agreement. More about this programme and what they are doing here.

UK law governing animal research is also in the process of being revised. Across Europe, an EU Directive on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes sets minimum standards for the care and treatment of laboratory animals and also established measures aimed at reducing the numbers of animals used in research. This has recently been revised and the UK government is in the process of transposing this into UK law to make sure we are in line with the revised requirements. The Home Office has been consulting on how best to do this – bioscience organisations including AMRC  have worked together to jointly respond to this consultation. More background on this process here.

What does the report cover?

the report includes examples of work into new research techniques for understanding:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • spinal cord injury
  • asthma
  • kidney disease
  • pulmonary embolism
  • motor neurone disease
  • diabetes
  • neuroscience studies
  • cancer
  • testing vaccines
  • arthritis and diabetes
  • dental disease
  • bacterial infection
  • eplilepsy

And NC3Rs has also launched a new funding scheme for scientists in academia and industry to work together

Called CRACK-IT this scheme brings industry and academia together in partnership with NC3Rs to tackle ways to refine, reduce and replace the use of animals in research. NC3Rs provides the funding and the industry partners provide contributions in kind including access to data, equipment, samples and compounds.

Posted in: Policy