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Animal testing

Animals are used for a variety of purposes: to understand living systems and disease processes, to develop new drugs and examine their effects, and to test whether chemicals are safe for both people and the environment.  In some cases animals are used to research the animals themselves, such as for veterinary medicine, or to improve animal welfare, such as in conservation work or the agriculture industry.  Research might involve studying animal behaviour under different circumstances, taking tissue samples and subjecting them to different tests, or exposing the animal itself to different substances and analysing the effects on a particular system or organ, or on the whole animal either while still alive, or after death.   

FRAME is concerned with animal testing conducted by universities, research centres and companies that use animals as models for human disease processes and to test the effects that drugs and other chemicals are likely to have in the human body.   

No, animals were the only models used to study human disease and chemical effects for many years, but as science has advanced it has become clear that there are many problems with this type of research.  These can include the fact that there are species differences which mean that animal reactions are not necessarily particularly good predictors of human reactions, and there are considerable difficulties in replicating results (reproducibility)

Significant advances have been made in more human-based methods to replace the use of animals, including using human tissue and organs (in vitro), creating tiny models of body systems (organ-on-a-chip), and analysing huge amounts of existing patient and chemical data in new ways (in silico modelling).  However, our system for disease research, drug development, and safety testing is still based around the use of animals.  Changing this is challenging for everyone concerned, some of the issues faced are 

  • Researchers may not have the right skills to be able to use alternative methods effectively 
  • Research questions might need to be considered differently to be amenable to non-animal methods 
  • Alternatives are not always a like-for-like “replacement” and it can be difficult for researchers to find alternative methods that they could use 
  • Regulatory and safety frameworks are configured around the use of animals and are naturally risk-averse to the use of new methods in safety testing   

In addition, it is still true that acceptable alternatives do not yet exist in all areas.  So making a change is complex and cannot happen overnight.  FRAME is committed to working at all levels to find practical solutions to the barriers to the development and uptake of alternative methods.  We believe better science and more humane science go hand in hand

We agree a cure for cancer is hugely important and we want to work to support those scientists to ensure they are using the very best methods to predict human responses to treatments. There is evidence that animal methods are not good indicators for human responses and they are also costly and difficult to replicate. We champion alternatives for the benefit of both animals and humans 

There is an introductory overview to the basic arguments around ethics of animal experimentation on the BBC Ethics website.

We appreciate that animal experimentation is a highly contentious issue which has often resulted in communication breakdowns, ill-feeling, and occasionally even violence between those who conduct such research and those who fundamentally oppose it.  

FRAME takes a pragmatic, evidence-based view.  We believe that there is sufficient evidence to question the continuing need to conduct animal research in many areas, and argue that scientists should continually be seeking to use the most reliable and valid methods available.  Sadly, we know that this does not always happen for many reasons.  We want to support scientists and researchers to move away from animal methods where alternatives exist, and to develop suitable non-animal methods where these are not currently available. 

The 3Rs

3Rs stands for Replacement (of animals with other methods), Reduction (in the number of animals used if their use is necessary), and Refinement (or methods to improve animal welfare).  It is an approach developed in the 1960s to develop a framework for more humane scientific approaches.  Today 3Rs is accepted terminology worldwide and there are 3Rs Centres in many countries supporting scientists to replace, reduce and refine their animal use. In the UK and EU the implementation  of the 3Rs principles is a legal requirement in legislation that regulates animal use in testing and research. FRAME completely supports the 3Rs approach, however we do emphasise that the developers of the framework, Russell and Burch, put these actions in a specific order of priorities ie the goal is first and foremost, the replacement of the use of animals.  Only when replacement is not possible should we be looking at reduction and refinement.  We continually work to develop and promote non-animal methods as the scientific first choice. 

Visit our 3Rs page for more information.

Further information is available on our Alternatives to Animals page, our Training School page and from the NC3Rs website.

We also provide information and resources to support researchers and reviewers in searching for and assessing replacement opportunities on our Searching for Alternatives page.


We work within the academic and scientific system with a range of colleagues and collaborators to achieve our goal.  We believe that true change comes from working with people rather than in opposition to them. We do not work with organisations who use animals in cosmetic testing or who are not committed to our 3Rs values. 


Many of our trustees and supporters have worked in animal research and understand both the scientific and systemic barriers to change. They have or have come to the view that animal research is often not the best method for biomedical research and that alternatives are not sufficiently funded, prioritised and utilised.  They also understand the emotional toll that is often felt by those working with animals who wish there were alternative methods.  This deep understanding and empathy allows us to have extremely honest and respectful conversations with a range of stakeholders, to identify the real actions needed to make a difference. 

FRAME focuses on 3 key activity areas: 

  • Funding research – we fund research to continue to develop and validate alternative methods 
  • Sharing information – we undertake education, training and outreach to ensure that research and information about alternatives is disseminated as widely as possibly 
  • Creating change – we actively promote discussion on the issues around the use of animals in research, challenge entrenched positions, and work to embed evidence-based change. 

Visit our How We Make a Difference page to find out more.

FRAME was established in 1969, well before the advent of the leaping bunny and other logos.  Our first logo was Old FRAME logo, which has evolved over the years into our current logo.  Some companies have permission to use our logo on their products.  This does not signify that the product is cruelty-free but indicates the company’s commitment to supporting the sustainable development and implementation of non-animal methods across all areas, not just cosmetic safety testing. Read our ‘What’s in a logo?’ article for more information.

FRAME is funded by a range of generous individuals, organisations, trusts and foundations who champion our cause and give in support of our vision that one day non-animal methods will be considered scientific best practise. We receive the majority of our income from gifts in wills (legacies), for which we are very grateful. We also receive income from subscriptions to ATLA our journal and from investments made on behalf of the charity and overseen by our Trustees.  

 If you would like to support us by making a donation or considering leaving a gift in your will we would be extremely grateful.


To keep up to date with all FRAME’s news and activities as well as what’s happening in the field of non-animal methods sign up to our monthly newsletter. 

Yes!  The more people understand the issue and promote our messages the better.  If you study or work in academia you can question your institution’s position on the issue, if you are active on social media please engage with us and share our content and resources.  There are also opportunities to fundraise or volunteer for us.  If you share our passion for real change then please do get in touch.

Thank you! We would love to speak with you about how your organisation can support the work of FRAME. Please contact Catriona Sinclair at or visit our How You Can Help section of the website. 

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