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What are the alternatives to animal testing?

Alternatives to animal testing and research aren’t always like-for-like. That’s why education and collaboration are such an essential part of FRAME’s work.   

By working with researchers, we can help them find the right non-animal methods. Where they don’t currently exist, we provide funding and support to create them. 

In vitro research

In vitro research methods use, and grow, human cells and tissues in a lab. This might include tissue donated by patients, lab-cultured tissue, or stem cells. Scientists can even create 3D mini organs known as ‘organoids’.

The FRAME lab grows 3D in vitro liver models to study liver disease.

Organ-on-a-chip research

Organ-on-a-chip technology uses a range of human cells in small chips that mimic an organ. Theoretically, researchers could even string many chips together to study an entire system.

Summer Studentship winner Jia Jhing Sia used an organ-on-a-chip model to study strokes.

In silico research

In silico research methods use computers, mathematical models, and simulations. This can help predict human responses to drugs and model diseases and treatment outcomes in human populations.

Summer Studentship winner Will Hunt reviewed in silico computer models in neuroscience research.

Human volunteer studies

Humans can volunteer to trial new medicines or treatment options. This can involve techniques like micro-dosing, where volunteers take a tiny amount of a chemical to study the effect before larger-scale human trials.

In 2020, the FRAME lab was involved in a human volunteer study into metabolic health.

Human patient studies

Human patient studies work with patients actually living with conditions or diseases. There's a concerning trend to try and mimic human conditions by genetically modifying animals. Information obtained from patients themselves will always be more relevant than animal 'models'.

Summer studentship winner Sarah Orr used kidney cells obtained from patients to study cystic kidney disease.

How can you support the end of animal testing?

We’re thrilled you want to make a difference and help us build a better future for animals and humans. Find out more about how you can help or contact us with any questions you might have, we’d love to hear from you. 

 

Your questions answered

NAMs are new approach methodologies, sometimes called non-animal methods. NAMs refers to research specifically intended as a replacement for animal research. 

In our experience, there isn’t a simple answer. It’s about collaboration and remaining committed to our goal. 

We focus on three core areas: funding research, creating change, and sharing information. 

  • Grants and funding to support researchers at every career stage to develop and grow confidence in non-animal research.
  • Policy work to encourage policymakers to stay up to date on alternatives to animal testing. We also push for an overarching commitment across the government to replace animal research.
  • Educational opportunities for researchers, students, policymakers, and our wonderful supporters on the importance of rigorous, ethical science and non-animal methods available. In our experience, there isn’t a simple answer. It’s about continuous, clear communication. 

The 3Rs are used worldwide by universities and legislators so it’s a helpful phrase to know. 

The 3Rs stand for: 

  • Replacement 
  • Reduction 
  • Refinement 

The 3Rs’ primary aim is to replace animals with non-animal methods where possible. There’s also a commitment to improve animal welfare where animal use is deemed unavoidable by regulatory bodies or researchers. 

FRAME’s focus is always the replacement of animals in laboratories. This is the first, and most challenging, of the 3Rs to implement. It involves researchers thinking differently about how to answer questions. One 3Rs criticism has been that too much time and money goes to the ‘easier’ goals of reduction and refinement. FRAME is committed to supporting researchers and other stakeholders explore and implement replacements.

Find out more about the 3Rs in animal research 

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