the microsampling blog

how to use fewer animals in preclinical research

how-to-use-fewer-animals-in-preclinical-researchThe scientific and cultural breakthroughs catalyzed by animal research have transformed human society for the better. Now, it is incumbent upon preclinical researchers, scientists, and lab directors to work more efficiently, effectively, and compassionately with these animal colleagues we so depend on.

This thinking was the impetus for the 3Rs – Replace, Reduce, and Refine – a global movement to improve our systems of animal research. By properly implementing the 3Rs, preclinical labs can produce better results and research while causing less stress and suffering to rodents and other experimental animals.

Principles of the 3Rs

The principles of the 3Rs are anchored in:

  1. Replacement
  2. Reduction
  3. Refinement

This concept was developed over 60 years ago and aimed at conducting scientific tests on animals in a more humane way.

1. Replacement

Replacement is a method requiring researchers to use alternative methods to conduct scientific research. This process uses full replacement and partial replacement. Full replacement is conducting tests without using animals. It is possible to achieve this by

  • recruiting human volunteers
  • using mathematical and computer models
  • using tissue and cells as well as established cell lines

Partial replacement is using animals that will not suffer in these scientific experiments. Animals in partial replacement include invertebrates such as nematode worms, social amoebae, and Drosophila.

2. Reduction

Reduction is a method used when it is impossible to replace animals in research. Reduction aims at reducing the number of animals used while gathering the maximum amount of information possible. It is possible to achieve reduction through the application of techniques such as small-volume blood microsampling. Another is the use of imaging modalities that allows longitudinal measurements in one animal rather than culling.

3. Refinement

Refinement is a method ensuring animals suffer minimal distress and pain during the research. Species-specific proper housing of animals is one of the key ways to promote animal welfare and it can be key in results. Even a small alteration of their environment may affect the testing outcome. Microsampling also ensures a minimal amount of blood is obtained for more comfort and less suffering.

Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling technology has a part to play in helping researchers practice the 3Rs. Evidence indicates that, by switching to a workflow based on microsampling, labs can reduce animal usage by up to sevenfold.

This occurs because microsampling allows the same animals to be sampled multiple times at a range of time points. Since smaller volumes of blood are taken at each time point, this approach has less negative impact on the animals and helps reduce reliance on satellite populations. For lab rodents, rat tail blood collection can reduce stress and prolong life. And it gives rise to better circumstances for their human coworkers, as well.

For more information on microsampling in animal research, please visit our Technical Resource Library for published articles and presentations from others working in the field.

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