World Day for Laboratory Animals: 24 April 2020

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World Day for Laboratory Animals: 24 April 2020

Since 1979, World Day for Laboratory Animals, has been a catalyst for a global movement to end the use of animals in laboratories around the world and drive their replacement with advanced scientific non-animal techniques. 

Many of the aims of this worldwide awareness day resonate with FRAME’s ambitions and overriding charitable purpose. This is why: 

FRAME was founded in 1969 with the charitable objective of 

promoting the mental and moral improvement of mankind by working to relieve suffering and cruelty to animals, particularly when such animals are being used as subjects for medical, biological, pharmaceutical and other associated researches..   

Today we would say we are working towards a world where non-animal methods are recognised as scientific best practice. The wording may be different, but our energy, passion, and belief that human-relevant research and testing equates to more humane, accurate and cost-effective science, remains as strong as it was half a century ago.  

As an organisation, we are united in a genuine care for animals and a search for more humane science, and continue to challenge the ethics surrounding the  continued use of animals in testing where alternatives exist. Testing drugs and chemicals for humans on animals has repeatedly been shown to be fundamentally flawed; its continued use where alternatives exist is unethical.  

Animal testing is in many cases an outdated methodology.  Historically it may have been all that was available, but human-relevant methods are now at the cutting edge of science. This is why FRAME is dedicated to the development of new and scientifically valid methods that will replace the need for laboratory animals in medical and scientific research, education, and testingand has been instrumental in developing and establishing a validation process for in vitro assays. 

Where the use of animals is currently necessary, FRAME supports the reduction of numbers involved to an unavoidable minimum and refinement of experimental procedures to minimise the impact of those experiments on animals used. This process takes considerable time and we do not have replacements for all animal tests yet, but this has been, is, and will always be the goal. 

We want to challenge the existing paradigm and raise awareness that animal models are notoriously poor predictors of adverse reactions in humans.  Researchers need training in effective experimental design as early as possible in their careers, to equip them with the skills and confidence to use human-based systems where possible.  Where this is not possible we should ensure experiments are designed to provide maximum information from minimal animal use. 

Legacy 

FRAME is the only independent scientific research charity that takes action at all stages of the system change process, and has a long history of credibility in this area: 

  • In 1983FRAME was one of three organisations which advised the UK government on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, that provided a rigorous and world-leading statutory framework for control and oversight of animal procedures.  
  • The charity has worked tirelessly to influence the EU’s approach to animal testing – in 2000, EU regulators accepted FRAME’s first three replacement alternatives to animal testing, and in 2010, FRAME took part in the European Commission Consultation on Alternative Methods of Cosmetic Testing. 
  • The FRAME Alternatives Laboratory, has used cells derived from human tissues to produce biologically relevant in vitro 3D models of human organs, including human liver, skeletal muscle, adipose tissue and skin, which behave and respond in the way they would in the body. 

Attitudes survey 

Last year, FRAME’s 50th anniversary year, we commissioned an attitudes survey to measure how informed and aware the public is about animal testing and research for medical, chemical and cosmetic purposes, as well as alternatives to animal use. 

This revealed that 93.4% of respondents think more needs to be done to replace and reduce the use of animals in testing and research, and that 42% of people see greater funding of alternatives as the most important factor in helping to end the use of animals in testing and research.  

Significantly, it confirmed the widespread and incorrect public view that the pharmaceutical industry is the biggest user of animals for research and testing, when it is in fact academia and university-led research. This is a very common misconception, and our survey identified that it is one held by three-quarters of people.  

However, the most recent Home Office report on the Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain (2018) tells us that 56% of the experimental procedures carried out in 2018 were for basic research, and 26% for regulatory testing purposes.  

Get involved and find out more 

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