The use of animals in research is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012. This law protects all animals used in procedures for scientific purposes and lays out guidelines as to how the animals should be housed and cared for.
Home Office licensing
There are three licenses needed from the Home Office to carry out animal research:
- An establishment license for the place at which the work is carried out.
- A project license for each individual research project which should outline what work is to be done and why animals are required for it.
- A personal license for each researcher that outlines the techniques and procedures that can be performed on the animals.
- Home Office information research and testing using animals
- Home Office guidance on Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act
The University of Surrey has embedded the principles of the 3Rs in relation to animal research:
The University strives to replace animal research with alternative methods wherever available, including imaging, computer and mathematical modelling, human volunteer studies, cell culture methodologies etc. The University was recently awarded a grant of £424,344 for a bovine alveolus model to replace cattle in the study of host-pathogen interactions in bovine tuberculosis.
Read our feature on tackling tuberculosis with a model cow lung to see how the University is using alternatives to animals in its research.
The AWERB always ensures that experiments using animals are designed to use as few as possible to answer the scientific question being addressed. The ability to extract as much data as possible from an experiment is paramount, and through data archiving, researchers can also reanalyse data from prior experiments.
The University is reducing the number of animals kept in the facility through an appropriate breeding strategy and has received funding of £434,851 for reducing animal use using Dictyostelium to study the genetic basis of Mycobacterium bovis intracellular infection in collaboration with the University of Geneva.
The animals are housed under strictly controlled conditions in the facilities and all scientific procedures are carried out in a humane fashion. As part of the approval process, the effect of any experimentation on animal welfare is a major consideration and the research is designed to minimise the use of invasive or distressing procedures wherever possible, and anaesthetic and analgesics are always used where appropriate. A new method of handling mice using tunnels have come about to ensure better welfare and reduce stress.
Animal Welfare and Ethical Review
The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) reviews applications to use animals for research. AWERB oversees the establishment’s use of animals and encourages high standards of animal welfare, creating a culture of care, discussing ways in which the 3Rs can be actively implemented and by sharing experience and best practice.
The core responsibilities of the review body are as follows:
- Advise staff and researches on matters relating to the welfare of the animals in relation to their acquisition, accommodation, care and use
- Advise on the application and implementation of the 3R’s (see below)
- Ethical evaluation of all projects involving animals by weighting the harms and benefits of the research before submission to the Home Office
- Establishing and reviewing processes for monitoring, training and reporting
- Retrospective reviews of research projects carried out in the facility, the effects on the animals should be taken into account
- Reviews of the progress and outcomes of ongoing projects and whether there are further opportunities to implement the 3R’s
- Advise on re-homing schemes.
The animal facilities at the University of Surrey are staffed by a team of dedicated animal technicians. These animal technicians are trained in correct handling methods, animal husbandry and in identifying signs of pain, distress and disease in the animals. Animals housed within the facility are checked at least once daily by the animal technicians and, along with the licence holders, they are responsible for the care and welfare of laboratory animals and their environments.
All staff and researchers who work with animals receive rigorous training, there competencies are assessed and reviewed on a regular basis, ensuring they work with care and compassion and an overriding commitment to a culture of care.
NACWO’s are responsible for overseeing the care and welfare on the animals used in research. If a member of staff has concerns over animal welfare then these issues are raised with the NACWO.
All the NACWOs at Surrey are members of the Institute of Animal Technology (IAT) and the BRF manager is a Register Animal Technologist (RAnTech) and IAT council member.
The role of the NTCO is to make sure that all individuals working with the animals within the facility are adequately trained and supervised until they are deemed competent. The NTCO also ensures that any further training continues as appropriate.
The NIO provides users of the facility with any new information that will help with the implementation of the 3R’s and care for the animals.
A member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons helps to give 24 hour advice on the health, welfare and treatment of the animals within the establishment.
The links below are provided for further information, the websites do not give information on behalf of the University of Surrey and the University accepts no responsibility for the content of the websites.
- National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)
- Understanding Animal Research
- Laboratory Animal Sciences Association (LASA)
- Institute of Animal Technology (IAT)
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)
- Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME)